Srinagar, India has won Round One of the diplomatic battle with Pakistan that promises to be prolonged and intricate, judging from the cold to lukewarm response of the world community to Islamabad’s loud protests at the changes India is enacting in its own territory of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
For one, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has not thought it necessary that the Pakistani complaint to it is urgent enough to call an early session.
Secondly, Poland, the current UNSC Chair has emphasized that the issue is bilateral to be resolved by the two South Asian rivals. Poland is speaking on this for the first time. It has not changed its stance despite a telephone talk between its Foreign Minister and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Thirdly, Russia that many in the diplomatic world have perceived as getting close to Pakistan — because China is close to Pakistan – has been cold to Islamabad’s overtures. Moscow continues to call the Kashmir strictly bilateral. Russia, since the Soviet era, has been closely associated with the Kashmir issue in support of India, which includes the Tashkent Agreement if 1966, the Friendship Treaty of 1971 and vetoes exercised when at the end of an armed conflict, Bangladesh emerged.
Fourthly, China, on whom Pakistan depends heavily, if not solely, but abjectly, to stir trouble for India on any issue, has been cautious. It has expressed concern and has hinted at Indian action being ‘unilateral’. But it has stopped well short of anything that can be interpreted as criticizing India. Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, who met his Chinese counterpart, well after Qureishi had, explained India’s state well and emphasized that any difference of opinion on any issue need not become a dispute.
Pakistan’s Islamic world comrades and benefactors – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE among them, have been cautious, too. Islamabad has sought an erly meeting of rthe OIC, which has not indicated an urgent date. In any case, the OIC has become toothless and Pakistan, which got away getting it to pass many a resolution critical of India in the past, is not in any hurry, so far, even to call a meeting.
The UAE envoy in New Delhi has cautiously supported what India says – that it is India’s internal matter.
Additionally, West Asia from where Pakistan could expect support, is in a mess. Arabs are fighting each other, while Iran is daring the United States. Saudis and the UAE have been allies in fighting the Houthis in Yemen for five years, but the latest is that they have ended up attacking each other.
Finally, the United States has got embroiled itself with President Trump making offers of mediation and arbitration in the Kashmir dispute. He inadvisedly offered it as a booster to Pakistan so that it would deliver on the Afghanistan front. Trump desperately wants to quit that conflict and needs Pakistan for it.
The Trump offer has put the US on a bit of a backfoot. The US would love to woo Pakistan, but not annoy India – and not on Kashmir issue. It has wisely stated, quoting none else but the Indian standpoint, that it is a bilateral issue.
All in all, two important points emerge. One: the world is tired of the Kashmir issue that it sees cannot be resolved with any intervention. There is no ear willing to hear Pakistan’s wailing when that nation is perceived in the West as harbinger of Islamist militancy and export of terrorism. Islamabad’s claims of having made “sacrifices in fighting terrorism” are taken with more than a pinch of salt.
It is clear that the world community would watch the issue closely and cautiously, but seems unlikely to take any initiative at the UNSC. China is aware of this and will not easily put all its eggs in Pakistani basket.
Two: Pakistan does not matter when seen in comparison with India, a large economy that is open and all are willing to do business with it. Indeed, Pakistani leaders have publicly begun to lament that the world community is too enamored of India to be critical of it.
Pakistan is realizing that the past UNSC resolutions, 11 of them, that it had scuttled, do not add up to anything in the present century. The world has moved on. What has the UN done, asks an analyst and himself replies that it has not done anything beyong appealing to all sides concerned to “exercise restraint and maintain peace.”
Qureshi’s letter to the UN raises alarm about a conflict on this issue among the two nuclear powers. This amounts to pointing the gun on the head and seeking help. It is un likely to work.
Qureshi hit the point hard while addressing a rally in Muzaffarabad meant to express ‘solidarity’ with the Kashmiris in India (obviously not mentioning Jammu and Ladakh) that nobody at the UN or the UNSC is “waiting with garlands to welcome us.”
Qureshi’s lament indicates the deep sense of disappointment in Pakistan at the response of the world community.