ISLAMABAD: At a round table discussion on Saturday, former diplomats said Pakistan will have to improve its international standing for its voice to be heard on the Kashmir issue and that it has to try out other ways to morally and politically support the uprising in the valley.

The discussion was hosted by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) to discuss the options Pakistan has to back the latest revolts in Kashmir against the Indian occupation, which claimed more than 40 lives and left 2,000 injured the past week.

Retired ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, who served in the US and India, said passion on its own is not enough to change history.

“We require seriousness and truthfulness,” Mr Qazi said, adding that poor governance in the country was adding to the problem.

“No one is going to listen to us until Pakistan corrects itself,” he said, adding that the world is silent on the Kashmir issue not because it doesn’t like Kashmiris, but because it doesn’t like Pakistan, which is the chief advocate of the issue.

“We will be mistaken if we think the world will censure India because of morality and values,” he said.

Quiz: Test your knowledge about the Kashmir issue

Former foreign secretary Salman Bashir agreed with Mr Qazi and said sincerity and truthfulness were needed in order to develop credibility.

“We should use social media more effectively. The younger generation should show the world Indian brutalities against Kashmiris. The ugly face of India and the hollowness of its democratic credentials need to be exposed,” Mr Bashir said.

“Lip-service” regarding Kashmir in the form of inconsequential statements was no longer an option, he added.

He said statements from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the UN were also irrelevant because they did not serve to change the situation.

Director School of Politics and International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University Dr Ishtiaq Hussain said Kashmiris should be involved when making strategies for supporting the Kashmir cause.

“Kashmir is about its people and their aspirations and not territory, religion and culture,” he added.

At the conclusion of the discussion, SVI presented a list of recommendations which said Pakistan needed to make reforms and to repair its image for effectively advocating the Kashmir issue, which requires more than making inconsequential statements and resolutions from Islamabad.

The recommendations called for greater public participation, particularly of the youth, in highlighting the plight of the Kashmiris.

It was also recommended that instead of just addressing the Indian government, Pakistan should engage with other opinion groups in India which do not necessarily share Delhi’s position on the issue.

The SVI president also called for reviewing the strategies used before for supporting the Kashmir struggle which have failed in achieving the desired results.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2016

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