“Thanks for your question”

Why Bilawal Bhutto said so as the journalist posed a question about Kashmir !
In response to the question, Baerbock had said: “Germany also has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation in Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations, to find peaceful resolutions in the region.”
In response to the question, Baerbock had said: “Germany also has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation in Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations, to find peaceful resolutions in the region.”Special arrangement

"Thanks for your question ,” so said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari   Bhutto, flattering a Pakistan journalist for his question on Jammu and Kashmir to German  Foreign Minister  Annalena Baerbock at their joint press conference in Berlin on Friday. 

This made it plain that the question was  planted  and it was aimed  eliciting  response that could help Bhutto  to shore up his credentials  as a foreign minister who keeps Kashmir narrative  alive even when his own country is  struggling to come out of the  unprecedented flooding  with the help of the international community.

In response to the question, Baerbock had said: “Germany also has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation in Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations, to find peaceful resolutions in the region.”

India responded with clarity on the issue and made Germany and its foreign minister aware of the real situation as to how Pakistan was responsible for all the tragedies, and owner of the peace-ruining technology through terrorism.

When MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the global community had a “responsibility to call out international terrorism, especially of a cross-border nature.” This was a reference to Pakistan, but Bagchi stopped short of naming the western neighbour.

He also placed it on record “The UN Security Council  and FATF ( Financial  Action Task Force) are still pursuing Pakistan-based terrorists involved  in the horrific 26/11 attacks,” and added: “When states do not recognise such dangers, either because of self-interest  or indifference, they undermine the cause of peace, not promote it.”

This reaction was good, but India should not restrict itself to reactions. It needs to  focus more attention to understand the genesis of such questions at  joint press conferences, particularly where Pakistan leaders are  present. And how the responses of this nature play out on the minds of the people, watching and listening or reading  the same.

There were  two  reasons  for Bilawal Bhutto to prompt the question and  compliment the questioner. First, there is a cut-throat competition  in Pakistan as to who speaks louder  on Kashmir and how much attention international leaders pay to the narration. This, in itself  is rooted in the historical illusions of Pakistan. What could be  a greater example of this   when Pakistan, in the words of Pakistan Prime  Minister Shehbaz Sharif  himself, is  knocking  doors for help with a begging bowl. The view that talking about Kashmir can redeem them and their country is nothing but chimera.

Second, Pakistan is trying to  rev up  K issue because it  also is becoming increasingly aware that the world is losing interest in this narrative. The intense interest in Kashmir in the international community is waning. It also  is related to the  wisdom that has dawned on the world that what  Pakistan is doing to Kashmir – exporting terror and ideology of terror. Here a slight diversification, Bilawal Bhutto’s father Asif Ali Zardari, is on record to have stated  in March 2008, when PDP president Mehbooba Mufti called on him to condole the death of Benazir Bhutto, that, “We want to see pens  instead of guns in the hands of Kashmiri youth.” This  promise was never translated into action as Pakistan continued  with its supply of guns and bombs. And terror is always met with force. There is no room for terrorism in any civilised society and it becomes imperative for the governments to deal with terrorism with iron fist. So, if Bilawal thought that his “grave human rights violations” in Kashmir would be accepted at its face value, he was mistaken.

His joint press Conference with German Foreign Minister has now become part of the reaction and counter reaction between Delhi and Islamabad. A lot of diplomatic time is consumed in such discourses. There is a way out which will help quell such angry exchanges in future.

India should not hear about Kashmir and then react. It should talk about Kashmir in assertive tone, point out to the terrorism coming from across the border – no use of euphemism - name Pakistan for all the terrorism factories it is running on its soil and exporting the produce to the neighbouring countries, particularly India.

India should not wait for Pakistan to rake up the K word, and then react to it, to tell the world that how Pakistan is harming peace by nurturing and exporting terrorism. This should be made a permanent feature at the international level. The apprehension that it would internationalise Kashmir issue and make it to walk into Pakistan’s trap must be rethought. India has to talk about terrorism in Pakistan and its export from there, particularly to Jammu and Kashmir. As the facts speak for themselves, Pakistan should be held accountable for each and every act of terror which emanates from its soil. Put Pakistan on defensive.

The origin of the Kashmir problem, since 1947, is because of Pakistan. The international community, though very few in it, listen to Pakistan and respond, needs to be made aware of what this country is doing to the rest of the world. An aggressive anti-terrorism diplomatic campaign is in the interest of the people of Kashmir. The people in the Valley, let it be said with all sincerity, do know what Pakistan has done to them, but they are still less than vocal in condemning the acts of terror. This is left to few leaders to come out with statements of condemnation after some acts of terror, the people at large are unable to speak it out. The fact is that they have suffered the most. The official count that 42,000 died in the past over three decades, is not the exact figure, in a sense that it is death census, not its impact over the emotions and psychology of the Valley. They want a full stop to it. If the terrorism emanating from across the border finds its echo at the international level, it would have its own impact. Kashmiris, who watch, international narratives with interest and utmost attention, draw their own conclusions. Delhi should know that how its changed attitude at the international diplomatic circles will yield dividends. Right now, the frank assessment is that as and when they hear K word from the international figures, be that from Turkey, or Germany, they believe that there is something unresolved.

Simultaneously, the work should start on what Home Minister Amit Shah promised last week; “We will not talk to Pakistan, we will talk to you ( the people of Kashmir) instead, and listen to people here ( in the Valley) than to Pakistan”. This dialogue will yield its results. The development is good, ending social inequities is better, but the best way forward, as Shah, outlined is talking to “our own people”. The work on it should start now, the format need not be through the interlocutors but people to people contact and drawing up of a method in which Kashmir, its problems and its aspirations are understood by the people in the rest of the nation, and vice-versa. That will help Delhi to shun its shyness in talking about Kashmir.

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.

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