The revival of peace talks with India looks remote after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi bluntly exposed Indian brutalities in Occupied Kashmir and cross-border terrorism at the United Nation General Assembly. Experts say he presented Pakistan’s viewpoint on regional and international issues effectively and convinced the world it was a victim of terrorism, rather than its sponsor, as is claimed by India at international forums.
It was after a long time that Pakistan has effectively countered Indian allegations at an international forum. India was given a free hand by the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in Pakistan which failed to appoint a foreign minister for over four years, which provided an opportunity to India to launch malicious propaganda against Pakistan at all international forums unilaterally. As Pakistan had no foreign minister to respond, India succeeded in its designs and maligned Pakistan’s image. It was the first time Pakistan raised the issue of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and cross-border terrorism at an international forum. However, Pakistan’s effective response to Indian allegations means India will not agree to peace talks in the foreseeable future.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi is the first Pakistani minister, who addressed the United Nations General Assembly in Urdu. It won him appreciation from all walks of life in the country. He pointed out crucial factors in Pakistan’s relations with India, the US and Afghanistan. Diplomats and analysts, who are accustomed to listening to conventional words on the platform, were surprised to see the Pakistani foreign minister speaking bluntly on issues like brutality in Occupied Kashmir and cross-border terrorism. Many in Pakistan believe Qureshi presented Pakistan’s viewpoint more clearly than any previous government’s representative, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
In his address, Qureshi’s prime focus was Indian aggression in the region and its unwillingness to settle issues with Pakistan through dialogue. Briefing the audience about the long outstanding issues with India, Qureshi clarified that Pakistan wanted to resolve outstanding issues with India through dialogue but the Indian government had wasted an opportunity for the third time — each time with flimsy excuses. He emphasised that the unresolved Kashmir dispute posed a great threat to peace and stability in the region. “Peace can never be established in South Asia unless the issue of Kashmir is resolved in accordance with the UN resolutions. India must stop human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir and also stop ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC)”. He warned that India would have to face a severe reaction if it attempted any misadventure against Pakistan. “India has been sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan and Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was involved in planning and sponsoring terrorist activities in Pakistan on behalf of the Indian government,” he added. He also informed the audience about Indian state terrorism in Jammu Kashmir. “Peace in the South Asian region directly relies on a justified settlement of the Kashmir dispute in the light of the UNSC resolutions and the will of the people of Kashmir,” he emphasized.
The war of words between the two countries intensified after India canceled the foreign minister-level talks with Pakistan that were scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the UNGA Summit in New York. India’s foreign ministry cited the “brutal killings of security personnel by Pakistan-based entities” and added that the release of a series of 20 postage stamps depicting a young Kashmiri rebel commander killed by Indian troops in July 2016 was “glorifying a terrorist and terrorism.” The announcement was followed by vitriolic and bellicose statements, in which India claimed that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had “shown his true colours” and Imran Khan shot back saying that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a “small man holding a big office”. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi also jumped into the fray, saying India was committed to peace but not at the cost of compromising self-respect and unity of the country. “People of India celebrated Parakram Parv to mark the second anniversary of surgical strikes conducted two years ago. Our soldiers had given a befitting reply to those who are involved in a proxy war against India through acts of terrorism,” PM Modi said. “We believe in peace and we are committed to it, but it will not happen at the cost of the self-respect and unity of the country. India has always been committed to peace.”
Since the formation of a new government in Pakistan, a series of overtures between New Delhi and Islamabad had rekindled hopes of peace and reconciliation. But, it proved eyewash. The battle lines are drawn again. Accusations and counter-accusations are flying thick and fast. The gains made in recent weeks have been squandered.
Analysts say Pakistan has exposed the true face of its archrival India before the international community. India also accused Pakistan of being involved in cross-border terrorism and sabotaging the peace dialogue amid worsening tensions. India’s attitude at the United Nations General Assembly showed that it wanted to increase pressure on Pakistan by deflecting attention of the international community from its atrocities in Occupied Kashmir. Cordial relations of Pakistan and China are also one of the reasons behind India’s aggressive behavior and upcoming elections in India are also one of the factors behind its recent policies toward Pakistan. The ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in India is under extreme pressure from Hindu nationalists and chances of dialogue even after the elections are slim. With the war of words escalating sharply, the peace process between India and Pakistan has been put on the backburner once again. It will take a Herculean effort to bring them back on the table.