Pakistan Tests Old Tricks On Kashmir

Pakistan Tests Old Tricks On Kashmir

20 March 2013
DNA
Firdous Syed

Mumbai: A day after the fidayeen attack in Srinagar; Pakistanís national assembly passed a resolution condemning the hanging of Afzal Guru and demanded that his body be handed over to his family. Many believed much should not be read into a resolution that was passed two days before the Assembly completed its five-year term. After all, itís election time in Pakistan and anti-India rhetoric always helps politicians. However, India didnít take the resolution lightly and unanimously passed a counter resolution deploring Pakistanís interference in its internal affairs. Pakistan would have known that any resolution would be condemned by India. So why did it still go ahead with it? The resolution in the Pakistan parliament was moved by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of a special parliamentary panel on Kashmir. But its unlikely that his was a spur-of-the-moment move. Critical issues pertaining to foreign policy are not conduced in the clumsy manner that the Maulana did. The fact that he could present a resolution that could have serious repercussions on India-Pakistan relations and the fact that the entire House adopted it indicates that the three primary stakeholders - ruling politicians, the foreign office and the Pakistan army - must have deliberated the pros and cons of passing such a resolution. The most palatable reason being forwarded by the strategic community in Pakistan is that the resolution is a show of solidarity with the popular uprising in the making in the Valley over Afzalís hanging. However, saner elements in the Valley, irrespective of any separatist sentiment, view the return of Afzalís mortal remains purely as a humanitarian issue. They were hopeful that the people with conscience among the Indian intelligentsia, who rejected the way Afzal was secretly hanged, would succeed in prevailing over the decision makers to return his body to his family to defuse the explosive situation in the Valley. These people must have viewed Pakistanís resolution as an unnecessary intervention that may have damaged their cause. The fear now is that India will never hand over Afzalís mortal remains because it was a demand also made by Pakistan. The truth is that a show of solidarity with Kashmir may eventually be a peripheral concern for Pakistan. In the wake of the expected withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, Pakistan is attempting to manoeuvre a space that will allow it to resurrect its pre 9-11 policy on Kashmir. That may be a horrible but a realistic scenario now. In the decade just gone by, India and Pakistan have failed to resolve their differences in a way that could have fully insulated the sub-continent from any reckless adventurism. But if Pakistan aims to capitalise on violence as an instrument of diplomacy while India reduces its tolerance threshold considerably, where are we are headed? The Srinagar fidayeen attack was not an isolated incident and if more are expected, the fears of an impending disaster will not remain an illusionary one.