ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) on Sunday warned the world that India’s irrational actions could destabilise the region and vowed to firmly respond to any act of Indian aggression.
“The recent Indian measures will increase the levels of violence and turn this area into a flashpoint and a destabilising factor in the midst of two strategically capable neighbouring countries,” a statement issued after the meeting said while noting that India through its military buildup in held Kashmir and “brutal use [of force] against an unarmed population” was “adding fuel to fire”.
“Pakistan condemns Indian actions in this regard which would have adverse implications for regional and international peace,” the NSC said.
The top security body’s meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan was held to review the situation along the Line of Control in the aftermath of firing of cluster bombs by Indian forces on civilian population in Azad Kashmir, as well as the developments in held Kashmir where over 28,000 additional Indian troops have been deployed, tourists evacuated, rationing of essential items has been ordered and Amarnath Yatra, a Hindu pilgrimage, cancelled.
Pakistan reaffirms diplomatic, moral and political support to Kashmiri struggle
Indian allegation that it had foiled an infiltration attempt from Pakistan has added to the tense situation. The allegation was immediately denied by Pakistan which described it as a diversionary tactic to distract the world’s attention from India’s human rights abuses in the occupied valley and attempts to change the demography of the region.
The statement listed the possible motives behind India escalating the situation, including an attempt to malign and discredit the Kashmiri movement for the right to self-determination, conceal the intended change in demography through revocation of Article 35-A, an expression of frustration at the human rights abuses getting global attention, the unease at the growing momentum in the efforts for a political settlement of the Afghan dispute, and trapping Pakistan in an escalation spiral.
“Forum was briefed on India’s deplorable suppression of populace in IOJ&K [Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir], plans to use bogey of terrorism for political ends disregarding situation on ground, use of cluster munitions against civilians to provoke Pakistan and use of disinformation manoeuvre to confuse the real intent i.e. changing the demographic structure and the internationally recognised disputed status of IOJ&K,” the statement said.
The NSC maintained that India because of loss of moral authority in held Kashmir and setbacks suffered by its narrative on Kashmir at the international level was “resorting to illegal, undemocratic and inhuman measures”.
Linking the timing of Indian actions with progress in the Afghan peace process, the NSC stated: “The recent Indian measures will increase the levels of violence and turn this area into a flashpoint and a destabilising factor in the midst of two strategically capable neighbouring countries.”
Indian apprehensions about developments in the Afghan peace process could be related to the two offers of mediation on the Kashmir dispute made by US President Donald Trump in less than a fortnight. New Delhi fears that the US because of Pakistan’s role in the peace process may increase pressure on India for accepting a third-party intervention in the long-running conflict.
The NSC noted that the growing international focus on Indian rights abuses in held Kashmir could force Delhi to “resort to desperate and risky options, including false flag operations”.
It should be recalled that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the second consecutive year launched a report last month documenting the human rights situation in held Kashmir between May 2018 and April 2019. The report specifically noted the sharp aggravation in the situation after the Feb 14 attack on Indian paramilitary forces in Pulwama that led to a military standoff between Pakistan and India. It had also observed that India did not implement the recommendations from last year’s UN report for addressing the rights situation.
The NSC reaffirmed the resolve to defend the country “against any Indian misadventure or aggression” and to continue diplomatic, moral and political support to Kashmiri struggle for the right of self-determination. “Pakistan reiterates that Kashmir is a longstanding unresolved international dispute which needs peaceful resolution. Pakistan therefore urges India to come forth to resolve the issue in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people,” it added.
Prime Minister Khan, while addressing the participants of the NSC meeting, said Pakistan would not be deterred from its just stance based on UNSC resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people. He said India was disregarding its international obligations and its arrogance would only result in heightening the conflict dynamics in the region.
He drew the attention of the world leaders and international bodies towards India’s “irresponsible, unilateral and irrational behavior” and emphasised that India should ensure the rights of the people including those living in occupied territories and abide by its commitments to the UNSC.
In a series of tweets before the meeting, PM Khan said Indian actions posed threat to international peace and security, and that sustainable peace in South Asia was possible only through “peaceful and just settlement of Kashmir dispute”. He recalled that President Trump had offered to mediate on the Kashmir dispute and said it was the right time to do so as aggressive Indian actions could set off a regional crisis.
The meeting was attended by Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Ahmad Shah, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Hayat, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, AJK Prime minister Farooq Haider, Special Adviser to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, ISI Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and other senior officers.
Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2019