- Government pessimism will reach the nation
Almost on the heels of his Pakistani counterpart, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was in Beijing, where he had a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, but he got only cold comfort on the Kashmir issue. With Kashmir entering the ninth day of lockdown and communication blackout, with only brief breaks for Friday and Eid prayers, Mr Jaishankar’s arguments did not cut any ice with his Chinese interlocutors, who persisted in seeing the Indian government’s abrogation of Kashmir’s special status as inimical to China’s interests. This implies that the crisis is lasting more than was to be expected.
One way in which India might try to change matters is by an adventure against Pakistan. This possibility was recognised by COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa when addressing troops in Bagh, AJK, with whom he had offered Eid Prayers on Monday, when he warned against any eventuality, including a false-flag attack. At the same time, after a successful visit to Beijing, Mr Qureshi seems to be taking a less than optimistic view of things, and has warned the nation, in a press conference in Muzaffarabad, that the UN Security Council is unlikely to take action, and that the Muslim rulers have invested heavily in India, and will thus not support Pakistan. This may well be true, but Mr Qureshi saying so in so many words runs the danger of causing despondency at the wrong time.
General Bajwa and Mr Qureshi are virtually making public a strategy for acceptance of the Indian step as a fait accompli: an Indian false-flag operation, followed by the UN holding back on intervention. Pakistan may well not need any trouble, what with the upcoming FATF vote in October, and IMF and other donor-agency lending contingent upon it. It is also true that the country is not united enough to resist any outside threats, because the government has alienated the opposition in its ham-handed attempts at accountability. What seems to be lacking is concerted government effort at uniting the nation. The government should also remember that only if it itself show it is resolute and undaunted, is there any chance that the nation will follow suit.