KARACHI: “The annexation of India-Occupied Kashmir by Modi is comparable to Nehru’s annexation of Hyderabad, Junagadh and Goa. Then, too, there was the partition of Kashmir, done on religious lines as Ladakh was said to have a Buddhist majority and Jammu and Kashmir a Muslim majority. India is basically trying to implement the Israeli occupation model in Palestine for changing demography and transforming the majority into a minority,” said Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
He was giving a talk on ‘The changing global scenario: impact on Pakistan and the region’ organised by the English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) at a local hotel here on Wednesday.
“Modi’s action [in] India-Occupied Kashmir is the most significant development in the South Asian subcontinent since 1971, when the geography of the region changed. It has helped internationalise the Kashmir dispute for the first time since the 1998 nuclear tests, when the UN Security Council passed the last unanimous resolution, No. 1172, on June 6, 1998, mentioning Kashmir by name while urging both India and Pakistan to resume dialogue on all outstanding issues and encouraging them to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir,” he added.
‘China and Russia are seen as a greater threat by the US than Al Qaeda or ISIS’
“We should seize this opportunity to move forward without having to alienate any of our neighbours as it is also important to learn from our past mistakes,” he said.
Looking back at history, he spoke about the vision of the founding fathers of Pakistan. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had given an interview to Life magazine back in October of 1947, which was published in January of 1948 when the nascent Pakistan was at war with India, its money was also held up as it faced an exodus of population from India. At the time when Mr Jinnah was asked about Pakistan’s role, he had very confidently replied that the future of geopolitics would rotate around Pakistan.
He saw Pakistan as the eye of the storm. Then in May/June of 1950, when Quaid-i-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan visited the US there were a series of pieces based on his visit by Walter Lippmann and Pakistan had been referred to by him as the “Heart of Asia”.
Then, reminding of the developments of 40 years ago, he spoke about the four major developments impinging on Pakistan’s role in the region affecting foreign policy and its relations with other countries, especially its neighbours. There was the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, China’s deciding to change its course for the sake of its economy and there was the US decision to establish a permanent presence in the Gulf.
“The impact of these things can be felt to this day. The 21st Century is Asia’s century as the influence and clout of Western countries diminishes and China’s transformation from a regional to a global power is evident. We also have the makings of a cold war where China and Russia are seen as a greater threat by the US than Al Qaeda or ISIS. And here is Pakistan located right in the middle of all the action,” the senator said.
“With Pakistan, China, Russia and Afghanistan working together for the Belt and Road Initiative [BRI], there is also a glimmer of hope for the peace process in Afghanistan to be successful. The BRI and its flagship project the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor [CPEC] promoting regional connectivity, peace in Afghanistan is intertwined with the peace and security of Pakistan,” he said, reminding of Allama Iqbal’s words from 1932 when he said that if there was a conflict in Afghanistan, it meant a conflict in Asia and if there was peace in Afghanistan, it meant peace in Asia.
He also said that CPEC and BRI would help interconnectivity between some 100 countries, including countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and the many projects associated with them had already provided 17,000 jobs to Pakistanis while 28,000 Pakistani students were also studying in China. “Pakistan’s strategic place in all this has even gotten the US president into realising that his electoral success also depends on peace in Afghanistan as instability in this region affects economic growth. Trump, who used to see Pakistan as part of the problem, now sees us as part of the solution,” he said.
“Pakistan’s being seen as an unstable, volatile and terror-infested place has also changed due to CPEC. We play a big role in making South Asia great through energy projects, roads and routes connecting so many countries, including Iran. China and Pakistan are very much focused on international cooperation for greater economic cooperation in the region. And the government, armed forces, political parties here have all risen to the occasion,” he said.
“In this scenario, the kind of actions by India and their mindset is dangerous. There is a strong anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan content there. The consequence of Modi’s policies will lead to deterioration in the relationship between Pakistan and India. It is a challenge for Pakistan as to how it can highlight the plight of Kashmiris and alleviate their suffering. It has to be done like we handled our nuclear programme despite so many pressures,” he said.
“There also has to be a strategy for India, which is a diverse society, something which we need to keep in mind. There needs to be an outreach to their society because Modi’s thinking is not the thinking of entire India,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019