ISLAMABAD: The incorporation of Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue in the joint declaration of the first-ever Speakers’ Conference, which concluded here on Sunday, turned out to be a major diplomatic achievement against all odds, given that it was initially opposed by three of the signatory countries, sources told Dawn.
It was the reservations of three states — Russia, Iran and Afghanistan — that necessitated a closed-door meeting of the speakers of all six participating nations, where sources said National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq managed to win them over. The last-minute diplomacy did, however, delay the finalisation of the text of the declaration by around two hours.
It is worth noting that Russia has consistently vetoed any resolutions on the Kashmir issue at the United Nations: in 1962, Moscow infamously used its 100th veto in the Security Council to cull an Irish-sponsored resolution aimed at prying the occupied territory from Indian control.
Between 1948 and 1965, the UN Security Council passed 23 resolutions on Kashmir; but after 1965, just one resolution, calling on India and Pakistan to respect the ceasefire line in the wake of the 1971 war, was passed.
NA media director Mohammad Mohsin Iqbal told Dawn that there was a difference of opinion among the delegates, which was settled by the speaker. “It is only natural that when six big countries, meet they have to heed each other’s points of view,” he said.
He gave credit for the inclusion of Kashmir in the ‘Islamabad Declaration’ to his boss, who he said convened a brainstorming session and managed to convince even Russia, which has historically supported New Delhi’s stance on the issue.
The Kashmir quagmire was mentioned at serial number 19 in the 29-point joint declaration issued on Sunday.
“We agreed that for ensuring global and regional peace and stability, the issue of Jammu & Kashmir needs peaceful resolution by Pakistan and India in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions,” read the text of the declaration signed by top parliamentarians from six major regional players.
Sources privy to the development told Dawn that the Russian delegation had expressed reservations over the inclusion of the issue Kashmir, which were then picked up Iran and Afghanistan as well. Iran, insiders claimed, had objections over the language of the Kashmir-specific section.
However, the Pakistani side contended that since Russia, Iran and Turkey had included issues of political interest to them — such as the crises in Iraq and Syria, the problems of the Middle East and Al Quds, and Turkey’s failed coup — it would be impossible for Pakistan to leave out the Kashmir issue.
Insiders said that the representative of Afghanistan proved to be hardest to convince.
Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2017