Pak’s Attitude would only Worsen Ties
There were a few adverse comments from Pak in the press recently. Firstly, post the encounter last weekend resulting in 13 militants being eliminated, Pak leadership termed it as a ‘brutal crackdown’ in Kashmir. Their PM Abbasi stated, ‘The brutal crackdown including the use of pellet guns on civilians protesting against the killing is deplorable’. The government supported protests criticizing Indian action and even attempted to reignite fires of hatred during its so-called Kashmir solidarity day.
Their foreign minister commented on the same adding that Pak would send envoys to different countries to brief them about the situation on Kashmir. It had done so earlier, sending politicians on a holiday junket using this pretext and, in most nations, they met almost no government representative. Their army chief General Bajwa stated that Indian forces cannot suppress the ‘indigenous’ struggle for freedom, fully aware that it is his organization which has refused to permit peace to reign.
Comments on Kashmir have been regularly raised both within the nation as also in international forums. The same remains accepted as a norm and either ignored or countered. The raising of the issue at various UN forums, non-aligned movement seminars and even at the Organization of Islamic Countries forums has been a regular feature. Where essential India has countered, while otherwise it has ignored. With passage of time, the comments have been expected and are completely ignored by the world body. India has never had to take the Israeli option of ignoring international comments.
The LoC has been active, with both nations blaming the other for ceasefire violations and targeting civilians. Tensions along the LoC have always existed, which have never blocked diplomatic channels. The diplomatic standoff on harassment of diplomats appears to be slowly ebbing. High Commissioners of both nations played a significant role in diffusing the situation. Presently, the High Commissioners are seeking to change the existing environment by interacting with government officials in both nations.
However recent comments by their foreign minister on Salman Khan’s sentencing faced wrath on social media. In an interview on Geo TV, Khawaja Asif stated, ‘Salman Khan has been sentenced because he’s from a minority community. To sentence him in a case that is twenty years old goes on to show that lives of those who are Muslims, ‘untouchables’ or Christians are not valued in India. Maybe if he belonged to the religion of the ruling party of India, he would not have been given such a harsh sentence.’ It is to the maturity of the Indian government which has chosen to avoid reacting or countering such immature statements.
India on the other hand has rarely commented on the manner Pak has been treating its minorities including implementing the infamous Blasphemy law, under which all religious minorities remain under threat. Its sentencing them to death on mere suspicion has been criticized by most western nations, while India has maintained a studied silence. It has never commented adversely nor organized protests when Pak Hindu’s are forcibly converted or kidnapped or sentenced to death for blasphemy. It may have requested the Pak government to care for its minorities, but never has it interfered in Pak’s internal matters.
Pak’s military courts, which are worse than Kangaroo courts, where every convict voluntary confesses and is awarded a death sentence has also not been adversely commented upon by India. India has been mature and let Pak handle its internal issues. India could have begun making things difficult in international forums had it begun charging Pak with mistreating minorities, issuing death sentences without proper trials or falsely implementing its blasphemy laws.
India only commented on the Jadhav issue, because Pak failed to follow diplomatic protocol by permitting consular access and he was a bonafide Indian citizen, engaged in a legitimate profession in Chabahar. Further, his kidnapping from Iran and projecting him as an Indian agent, employing means of torture, was against international norms. India offers consular access to all Pak nationals captured during terror operations in India, which Pak refuses to accept and even fails to acknowledge them as its citizens.
Shocking comments have also flowed from their foreign minister and the army on the meeting between the Pak National Security Advisor and the Indian High Commissioner. Their objections and adverse comments are pushing back all progress being made on both sides. It was reported that the meeting was cordial and positive. The two met to reignite earlier agreements of permitting doctors from both sides to visit jails and review the cases of mentally disturbed prisoners.
While logically, with Pak being in an election year, meeting political leaders or diplomats may not result in a continuation of policies, hence the Indian High commissioner met the Pak NSA, who would remain in his appointment, despite any government coming to power. The meeting, as per press reports was in the PMO, hence their PM would have been in the know. Adverse comments could however, push any progress which would have been made into the back burner.
Such Pak comments from senior government functionaries coming at a time when elections are close are likely to be more biased towards indicating support for Kashmir as also a means of displaying its pro-religious stance, solely to garner internal support. Pak’s strategy since its inception has been to project itself as a leader of the Moslem world, thus carving a space for itself. However, with passage of time, its criticism has remained more towards India than other regions including Palestine.
While India has displayed maturity and maintained a studied silence, regular comments on internal matters, especially in a pronounced secular nation with a clearly free judiciary would soon invite backlash in forums, where Pak’s reputation could be impacted. It would be advisable for their polity to display maturity in its comments failing which India has the capacity to humiliate Pak for its internal failings.