• publish: 15 August 2019
  • time: 12:49 am
  • category: Politics
  • No: 9761

Attempts to link Afghanistan, Kashmir tantamount to blackmail

Pakistan’s efforts to internationalize the Kashmir issue by linking it with ongoing talks between the US and Taliban to end the fighting in Afghanistan is tantamount to “blackmail”, people familiar with developments said on Wednesday.

Since the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and decided to split the state into two Union territories on August 5, Pakistan has repeatedly reached out to the world community to take up the issue but its efforts have gained little traction.

Pakistan envoy to the US Asad Majeed Khan has hinted that the peace talks with the Taliban could be affected if his country redeploys troops from the Afghanistan border to the Indian frontier even as the Pakistani leadership has sought US mediation on the Kashmir issue.

“This is just blackmail and it’s nothing new. In the past, they did the same sort of thing with the nuclear issue,” said a person familiar with developments who didn’t want to be identified.

The Indian side has decided not to react to provocative remarks from the Pakistani leadership as the changes in Jammu and Kashmir are an internal issue, the people cited above said. Moreover, the Indian side sees such remarks as part of efforts by Pakistan to create fears of a potential conflict among the world community, they said.

The people pointed out that barring a few countries such as Turkey, no one else had expressed support for Pakistan’s moves aimed at international intervention on the Kashmir issue. Even members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation such as the UAE have described the changes in Kashmir as an “internal matter”.

When Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi raised the issue with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a phone call that was initiated by Islamabad on Wednesday, the Russian side said “there is no alternative to resolve differences between Pakistan and India except bilaterally through political and diplomatic means,” according to a readout from the Russian foreign ministry.

The US too has spurned Pakistan’s repeated efforts seeking mediation on the Kashmir issue while Poland, the current president of the UN Security Council, has aligned itself with European Union in seeking a bilateral resolution.

However, New Delhi is keeping a close eye on the Security Council’s response to Pakistan’s call for an emergency meeting to discuss the Kashmir issue. Consultations are underway on the matter and the people cited above did not rule out the possibility of a veto by one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

While there has been considerable understanding for India’s position, the people said the world community’s response in the days ahead could be influenced by the situation that develops once the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir are further eased. “Much of the attention is on rights issues and this needs to be handled properly,” said a person who too didn’t want to be identified.

Though the developments in Kashmir figured in talks between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing earlier this week, the Indian side made it clear that the changes in Jammu and Kashmir had no implications for China, the people said.

While Islamabad has been aggressively wooing its all-weather ally Beijing to back its position on Kashmir and Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently dashed to China to discuss the matter, the Indian side believes China is unlikely to do anything to muddy the waters ahead of the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in India in October.

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