ISLAMABAD: The German foreign minister’s rare backing of Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir dispute has deeply upset Delhi because the two happenings may be more than a coincidence.

Many in Pakistan have been quick to present these developments as a sort of diplomatic coup, but one must not miss the context in which the statement was made and the tour took place.

German Foreign Minis­ter Annalena Baerbock had last Friday at a press conference with her Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said: “Germany has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation of Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations to find peaceful solutions in the region.”

Baerbock had further called for political dialogue between Islamabad and Delhi, and encouraged “political and practical cooperation”.

The German foreign minister’s statement did not mark a major departure from her country’s stance on Kashmir dispute, but the formulation may be different this time and troubling for Delhi, Ambassador Abdul Basit, who served as Pakis­tan’s envoy in both Delhi and Berlin, observed.

This statement and US Amb­assador Donald Blome’s earlier trip to AJK smack of the West’s anger and disappointment over Delhi’s position on the Ukraine conflict.

Delhi had strongly reac­ted to the statement and the trip.

Objecting to FM Baer­bock’s remarks, Indian Ex­­t­ernal Affairs Ministry spokesman Adrindam Bagchi said: “All serious and conscientious members of the global community have a role and responsibility to call out international terrorism, especially of a cross-border nature”.

Most observers agree that these Western actions are more rhetorical than substantive.

Dr Maleeha Lodhi, former envoy to US, UK and UN, in her comments asked if Germany and other Western countries had ever talked about Indian brutalities in occupied Kashmir. “There has not been a single word, for instance, on demographic change that is under way in occupied Kashmir. Would they pressure India to stop that,” she asked.

She, therefore, did not see anything unusual in the German FM’s statement and the US envoy’s AJK trip.

Abdul Basit, meanwhile, asked Pakistanis not to read too much into the statement and the ambassador’s visit.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2022

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