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Erdogan’s Kashmir approach

IF the suggestion was a surprise, India’s swift rejection was not. Nevertheless, for friends of Pakistan and India and countries with an interest and stake in peace in South Asia, the call for a multilateral approach to the Kashmir dispute by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a sensible idea. Unfortunately, less reasonable has been India’s official response, with the foreign ministry’s spokesperson claiming that the “issue of Kashmir is essentially an issue of terrorism”. To its old formulation of denying that Kashmir is a dispute — thereby trying to reduce the diplomatic and international implications — India now appears to be adding that the Kashmir issue is somehow a matter of so-called cross-LoC terrorism. That is absurd. And if anything has ever proved the absurdity of such an official claim, the wrenching scenes of schoolchildren, boys and girls under attack by Indian security forces and throwing stones in defiance have demonstrated how far India has drifted from reality on the Kashmir dispute.

Indeed, the violence perpetrated by the state of India inside India-held Kashmir has become a humanitarian crisis that requires the urgent attention of the outside world. The sheer scale of the violence by Indian security forces against the determined and brave people of IHK ought to be enough to prick the world’s conscience and stir it to intervene on behalf of an oppressed population standing up to a vast military apparatus. President Erdogan showed the statesman’s way forward by broaching the subject of Kashmir with the Indian media ahead of a trip to India. Other international leaders should take their cue from the Turkish leader and demonstrate a courageous and principled stand by speaking directly to India about the need for it to move forward on the Kashmir dispute. Mr Erdogan’s unprecedented remarks have demonstrated that India is unable and unwilling to turn away the outside world if the latter makes a fair and balanced assessment of the Kashmir dispute.

For Pakistan, the challenge is threefold. One, through diplomacy and international activism it must bring global pressure to bear on India to reverse the violent and oppressive course it has opted in the occupied territory especially in recent times. Second, Pakistan must seek to engage India diplomatically to reduce cross-LoC tensions in Kashmir. Third, it must find a way to restart a stalled overall dialogue process with India — Kashmir may be critical to a permanent peace, but there are many other areas in which talks can also move forward. If it is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s intention to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in June, the two leaders ought to have a road map in mind that can survive any immediate assault and long-term suspicion.thansk by Dwan news

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