- Self-determination should be cornerstone of policy
At long last Prime Minister Imran Khan is undertaking two foreign tours to garner international support for the Kashmir cause. After several phone calls to Saudi Crown Prince Muḥammad bin Salmān, Mr Khan will call on him in Riyadh today. When the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE visited Pakistan recently, the country was told both had assured complete support of their countries “to resolve the situation created by India’s unilateral steps in occupied Kashmir.” So far no public expression of support has come from Abu Dhabi or Riyadh. The PM’s visit will be called fruitful if Saudi Arabia publicly rejects the illegal annexation and condemns the reign of terror let loose in Indian-Occupied Kashmir.
At the UN General Assembly, one expects the PM to forcefully and eloquently present Pakistan’s position on India’s illegal and immoral annexation of IOK and the atrocities being committed by it. The PM has to strongly support the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination. He should also use the occasion to meet influential world leaders to press on them the importance of the Kashmir issue. He should emphasise the need for peace for South Asia’s development instead of talking about nuclear war which the world powers would never allow to happen. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi should have been directed to meet his counterparts in the world capitals instead of issuing self-congratulatory statements every now and then from Islamabad or Multan. To avoid any possible embarrassment he should have waited for the Indian Supreme Court’s final judgment before claiming that the apex court had conceded Pakistan’s stance.
The PM has to shun any meeting with Indian PM Narendra Modi till the Kashmir lock-down is ended, electronic communication restored and a firm public commitment made by India to open talks with Pakistan for the resolution of Kashmir and other outstanding issues. Keeping in view the role given to India in Washington’s South Asia strategy, Mr Khan would do well to revise the policy of making US President Donald Trump an umpire in the Pakistan-India dispute over Kashmir. He should also heed AJK PM Raja Farooq Haider’s advice not to present the Kashmir issue as a territorial dispute but a struggle for the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination through a referendum under the UN.