In 2010, when Kashmir witnessed a five-month-long unrest that left 120 people dead, Pakistan stayed more or less on the sidelines, restricting itself to occasional condemnations of the human rights violations. No longer. The last one month has seen Islamabad pro-actively backing the unrest in the state.
Soon after the death of militant commander Burhan Wani tipped Kashmir into turmoil and the killings piled up, Pakistan Prime Minister held a special cabinet meeting in Lahore to discuss the situation in Kashmir. He termed “movement of Kashmiris as a movement of freedom”, and also declared Burhan a martyr. Pakistan also observed July 20 as a black day in solidarity with Kashmiris.
On August 1, Pakistan Parliament passed a resolution condemning “the recent atrocities perpetrated on innocent Kashmiris by Indian security forces”. The resolution also said the use of pellet guns is “deplorable and is against the canons of international humanitarian laws.”
“This House denounces these reprehensible acts…It is confident that these blatant violations of international law cannot deter the valiant, oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir from continuing to press their demand for realisation of their right to self-determination, which is enshrined in numerous UN Security Council Resolutions,” a part of the resolution read.
The resolution also demanded that the Human Rights Commission in Geneva be requested to immediately send a fact finding mission to Kashmir to investigate human rights excesses by the security personnel, a development that has irked India.
Earlier, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had slammed Pakistan in Parliament for its intrusion and said that India can manage the situation on its own and does not require any advice from a country that is divided on religious lines.
Yet, Pakistan continues to meddle with India’s internal issues. In a statement issued at the end of the Corps Commanders Conference at the general headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s powerful military chief General Raheel Sharif had condemned the “brutal killings of innocent Kashmiri youth” by India.
Even the SAARC home ministers’ conference has been clouded by the tension over Kashmir, with bilateral freeze between India and Pakistan impacting the proceedings. While Home Minister Rajnath Singh was in Islamabad, the PM Sharif raked up Kashmir during the envoy’s conference. “Today Kashmir is witnessing a new wave of freedom movement,” Sharif said in his address to envoys. He told diplomats to apprise the world that Kashmir was “not an internal matter” of India.
At the SAARC conference, Pakistan Home Minister Chaudhury Nisar Ali broke from the tradition and rebutted Singh’s comments on terrorism, saying the movement in Kashmir was not terrorism but “freedom struggle”. Nisar Ali left the customary lunch for visiting home ministers, which forced Singh to also skip it.
Similarly, leading Pakistani newspapers like Dawn, Daily Times, The News, The Tribune have devoted more editorial space to reports from Kashmir. The opinion pieces and the editorials have regularly appeared in many newspapers, something that has not been the case before.
Says political analyst Dr Gull Wani: “The peace constituency in Pakistan which existed during Musharraf’s time has weakened over the past some years. The old hopelessness in regard to improvement in relations with New Delhi has returned due to little progress in talks. This has strengthened the constituency which says there is little gain in engaging India. The Pakistan Government has no choice but to respond to this sentiment”.
Some Kashmir observers, however, argue that Pakistan’s reaction is the outcome of the Modi government’s policies over the past two years. “The bilateral dialogue has not progressed at all. The two countries have bitterly differed over the agenda of talks. India wants terrorism on top and Pakistan wants Kashmir as a core issue, creating conditions for the prevailing bitterness in the relations,” says Naseer Ahmad, a local columnist.