In spite of a crowded domestic agenda, Pakistan continues to find time to attack India on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Its senate passed a resolution on Wednesday expressing concern over the situation in the state and attacks on Muslims and their properties by “Hindu extremists”. It would have been better for the movers of the resolution to check facts first.
As argued earlier in these columns, the return of civilian rule in Pakistan is at best a mixed blessing for India. In itself, the return to democracy is a welcome change and is a public good for its citizens. For India, it’s a return to hardline attitudes on J&K. This is clear to observers in both countries. In televised comments after the event, a retired additional secretary of Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it was futile to hope for progress on J&K from a civilian government.
The senate resolution should be seen in this light. The fact that the resolution was moved by the leader of the opposition, Kamil Ali Agha, should surprise no one. For an establishment that needs to establish its credentials, especially against the army, competitive hardening of positions on J&K is one of the few options available. It does not upset any special interests in that country.
Moreover, Pakistan is passing through political uncertainty of the kind that it has not witnessed for some time now. There are preparations to impeach the President (the first time in the country’s history). There are serious disagreements between the two main political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). In these circumstances, anti-India rhetoric serves to glue together a fractious establishment. The two other resolutions adopted by the senate that day criticized India for breaking the ceasefire and condemned Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for his “threatening statement” recently. All three resolutions serve the same purpose.
India has criticized the resolution. Given the fluid situation there, it’s not clear what purpose such statements serve. But one thing’s clear: There will be no easy way to peace now. It’s time to wait for a better and more opportune time.
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