Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the country on Monday was an important declaration of support for the Kashmiri cause, which helped clarify the government’s stance on the issue. It’s not as if the intention to stand behind the Kashmiris was not established before, but PM Khan’s speech was an important indication of policy specifics that the government would implement moving forward. This is in line with All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s five-point open letter which specified the resistance strategy moving forward.
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The letter asked Pakistani political leaders to step forward and keep applying political and diplomatic pressure at every opportunity to expose India’s brutal tactics in the region. The Prime Minister’s commitment to act as ambassador for the Kashmir cause and organising weekly solidarity ceremonies starting this Friday are both constructive decisions that will help in keeping the Indian occupation issue in both national and international discourse.
Solidarity marches within the country are relatively simple to organise and will garner mass support considering the whole country resolutely stands behind Kashmiris. Taking up the issue at diplomatic forums and convincing friendly nations to back the Kashmiri right for self-determination might prove to a much more complex endeavour. President Trump has already withdrawn his offer of mediation and is likely to stand with its closer ally, India then risk speaking out against a ruthless occupation. Other states will also put economic interests before humanitarian causes that do not affect them directly.
Therein lies the challenge for the Prime Minister and the government as a whole – this will require masterful and consistent diplomatic overtures to friendly states. This will undoubtedly take some time, which is why the government must be careful in not letting the issue get swept under the table. The only reason the Modi government has been so brazen in its actions is because it is convinced that the international community will not come to the aid of Kashmiris even if all of their rights are subverted.
Perhaps this has been India’s failing – by repealing its own laws in such a dictatorial manner, India has ensured that Kashmir is brought into the international spotlight. It is up to Pakistan now to keep pushing the issue at all levels until the international community is compelled to speak out against India’s actions. India played its hand at the beginning of the month. Pakistan now, must commit to this long-term struggle that we must engage in until Kashmir is free.