It is impossible to argue with the statement of UN Secretary-General António Guterres that Pakistan and India need to resolve the Kashmir issue and that any military conflict between the two South Asian states would end in “an unmitigated disaster.”
During a press conference in New York, the UN chief replied to a query by adding that “our good offices are always available” if the parties wished to take advantage of the option to address the matter. The problem here, though, is that the suggestion made by Mr Guterres will only bring success if both sides are involved in a peaceful resolution of the conflict.When one hand, India, continues to harp on the same tune, maintaining that Kashmir is a ‘internal’ problem, there is nothing that can be done by third parties.
The lack of success in the Kashmir conflict has undeniably polluted the South Asian climate since independence. Tensions have culminated in many wars and frequent skirmishes in the contested area. For its side, Pakistan has always tried to negotiate a compromise which is acceptable to the Kashmiris, but which has been overwhelmingly refused. Even, if India reciprocates, the new federal government has promised to take measures for peace, while Islamabad has attempted to improve relations through contacts between citizens.
A case in point is the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor. The Indian response, particularly under the watch of the BJP, to these openings, however, has been less than enthusiastic. Consistent attacks have happened over the LoC, leading to a significant number of civilian casualties, while the 2019 Indian misadventure in which the jets of New Delhi (one of which was shot down) breached Pakistani airspace is a prime example of the brinkmanship of the eastern neighbour of this country after the BJP took over the reins of power.And, of course, after India annulled the peculiar constitutional status of the occupied zone in August 2019, in order to squash the hopes of Kashmiris for independence and integrity, matters in India-held Kashmir have been more complicated. India has clearly shown, in such a situation, that it is not ready for peace.
Pakistan, however, should continue its attempts to peacefully settle the problem because, as the UN leader has noted, a military conflict in this area will be disastrous. But in order for peace to prevail, both the UN and the world powers have to understand that India has to change its belligerent stance.
Not only has Pakistan been in trouble along its frontier with India, the latest tensions on the Indian-Chinese border suggest that New Delhi is in an offensive mood and continues to provoke its neighbours. If India reacts favourably to Pakistan’s desire for dialogue, there is still a possibility to bring peace to South Asia.However, if India’s leaders and generals begin to make warlike noises and harass this region, they should realise that they can and will protect themselves in Pakistan.