For the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, it is imperative to keep their eyes and ears open to what is happening at the national and international level, and especially when the United Nations General Assembly is in session around this time every year.
There are few who always keep tuned to the speeches of the world leaders to know whether they bring K word in their script, and others read between the lines. And there are others who focus on other issues concerning the world.
This time around the Russian invasion of Ukraine and consequently the disturbed world order was in their attention, while others tried to comprehend rising China-US tensions, as also the ravages which have brought humanity face to face with the catastrophes.
This is part of their learning the political, diplomatic lessons. This way or the other, people in Kashmir have a self-belief that they are at the center of the world, and they have an added responsibility to know new dynamics of international relations.
To be honest, I went through the text of External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, whether he has responded to Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Shari’s speech, wherein he had spoken of Kashmir and the need for dialogue with India. It was my mistake that I was looking for particular words – Kashmir, Pakistan and so on. But he said, much more, not in response to Pakistan PM’s speech and references that it contained, but to the world at large, suiting the top diplomat of the country which is marching ahead to become a developed one in the next 25 years.
He answered many questions which the world had been asking. This particular part of his speech explains everything. India is on the side of peace “As the Ukraine conflict continues to rage, we are often asked whose side are we on. And our answer, each time, is straight and honest. India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there,” Dr Jai Shankar said during the course of his speech at the 77th session of the UNGA. Continuing with this particular area of interest, focus and concern of the world, the minister said: “We are on the side that respects the UN Charter and its founding principles. We are on the side that calls for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out. We are on the side of those struggling to make ends meet, even as they stare at the escalating costs of food of fuel and fertilisers. It is there in our collective interest to work constructively, both within the United Nations and outside, in finding an early resolution to this conflict.”
The message was loud and clear. Though it was spoken in reference to the conflict in Europe that has struck at foundations of the post Cold War world order, it had a wider appeal for the world to listen, comprehend and act.
This stand on the side of peace has wider contours. The west sees the solution to the conflict through economic sanctions and supply of high-end weaponry to Ukraine. Their way of search for peace is through arms. That will only perpetuate the conflict, not end it. The wars may settle issues regarding territory, but leave devastation in the wake. This is what Ukraine is experiencing. The only way out is through dialogue and diplomacy. In fact, this message should reverberate in Moscow too, which has suffered heavy losses.
Nearer home, it is having special appeal to China, Pakistan and Afghanistan that how should they embark on the dialogue and diplomacy, but even practice of this thesis is based on certain imperatives. That is counter-terrorism should not be a lip service, it has to be taken seriously and no sermons should be delivered to justify acts of terror.
Kashmir knows that what it has undergone over the past 33 years. A clear-eyed view will reveal as to who is at the root of the whole problem. Quite often, Pakistan and few in the Valley talk about the military presence in the Valley as intimidating factor. It is a fact that there is a high number of soldiers and paramilitary forces deployed in Kashmir – but all those who have seen pre-1989, know that it is a post 1990 phenomenon. That is directly linked to the armed violence – terrorism, all encompassed together in the proxy war launched by Pakistan.
A Pakistani diplomat had asked former Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao in 1990s, as to why there are so many soldiers in Kashmir, and pat came the reply: “you should ask why they were not there before 1989.” There is always a reference and context to each and every theory, perception or misperception.
Again, Dr Jaishankar answered many question when he said at UNGA.: “ India would be completing its tenure as a member of the Security Council this year. In our term, we have acted as a bridge on some serious but divisive issues confronting the Council. We have also focused on concerns such as maritime security, peacekeeping and counter terrorism.”
“As the Chair of the Counter Terrorism Committee this year, India would be hosting its special meeting in Mumbai and New Delhi. I invite all member states to participate in it. We need to create a global architecture that responds to the new tech tools deployed against open, diverse and pluralistic societies,”
Then came the hard part, wherein the Foreign Minister reflected on the cross-border terrorism – stating a cold fact that how Pakistan ( though it was not named ) exported terrorism into India , from Mumbai to Delhi and, in particular Jammu and Kashmir. He articulated the long-held stand of India,” zero-tolerance” to terrorism. “In our view, there is no justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivation. And no rhetoric, however, sanctimonious can ever cover-up blood-stains,” he asserted .
When India says, zero-tolerance to terrorism, it means in all its forms and manifestations. Here, he reflected on the duplicity of China on this issue, when he said: “The United Nations responds to terrorism by sanctioning its perpetrators. Those who politicise the UNSC 1267 Sanctions regime, sometimes even to the extent of defending proclaimed terrorists, they do so at their own peril. Believe me, they advance neither their own interests nor indeed their reputation.” Beijing must act on his advice, as it has no justification for blocking the proclaimed terrorists, operating from Pakistan, from getting designated as terrorists by the world body.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.