AS a new week begins and after a day of relative quiet on the Pakistan-India front, it is time for Pakistan to consider its next response to Indian belligerence in the region.

There are two main aspects to be considered.

First, the Kashmir dispute is once again on the international community’s radar after India’s wanton aggression against Pakistan. While Pakistan may not necessarily have gained much international sympathy in the stand-off with India, at a minimum the global community is once again aware of the perils of an unresolved Kashmir dispute. This, then, is an opportunity for Pakistan to diplomatically pursue the cause of the Kashmiris, particularly the violently repressed people in India-held Kashmir. Whatever the world is willing to believe about the rivalry between India and Pakistan, it is indisputable that the state of India has unleashed monstrous violence in occupied Kashmir that has caused the people of that region to rise up in mostly peaceful opposition.

If Pakistan is to effectively draw the international community’s attention to the plight of the people of IHK and the overall Kashmir dispute, a sustained and coordinated diplomatic strategy will have to be deployed. Beginning with Pakistan’s close allies in international forums, efforts should be made to initiate a debate on Kashmir and draw attention to India’s actions in all international organisations. With the world having witnessed Indian belligerence in recent days, there may be a greater international appetite to assess the root causes of the ongoing tensions in this region.

Certainly, India is likely to push back against attempts to discuss its actions in IHK, but the role of effective diplomacy is to advance a principled position against reflexive opposition. Pakistan can and should beef up its diplomatic efforts at this time.

The second aspect to be considered is an urgent revival of the National Action Plan and the domestic fight against extremism. For Pakistan’s lobbying on the Kashmir dispute and on behalf of the repressed people of IHK to be effective, there is also a need for a domestic reckoning against extant militant networks. Until now, when Pakistan has attempted to very rightly draw the world’s attention towards Indian violence in IHK, the world has often chosen to emphasise Pakistan’s need to do more against militant groups that are considered to be still active in Pakistan, despite being banned.

This county must fight all forms of terrorism, militancy and extremism for its own existence, security and well-being.

As Pakistan seeks to draw the world’s attention to India’s action in IHK, the world must not be handed an excuse to continue to look away at India’s behest. Pakistan must do all that it can to bring the world’s attention to IHK.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2019

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