In response to queries from the host of India Today’s TV programme ‘India Conclave 2017’ telecast on Saturday Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said while terrorism remains a serious challenge to deal with there are other issues of equal importance that the two countries should address to bring improvement to their ties – namely Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek. The rest of his comments follow a similar track, that the issues between the two neighbors cannot be discussed in isolation to other issues; however they are likely to find little traction on the other side of the border.
The demand for talks on Kashmir first had fallen on deaf ears during the entirety of the current Indian regime, which has utilised a policy of hawkish nationalism to stall talks on all issues. Recent developments in India ensure that the High Commissioner’s remarks could not have come at a worse time as far as their reception in India is concerned.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has just won crucial elections in 3 Indian states, running on a divisive and nationalist platform. The recently appointed Chief Minister of Uttar Pardesh – India’s most populous state – Yogi Adityanath has been a vocal supporter of the more extreme tenets of this divisive Hindu nationalist ideology, advocating religious conversions and a cultural reclamation of “Hindu lands”. In an atmosphere like this, with BJP in a strong electoral position in the Indian state and Hindu nationalism on the ascendency, immediately following their landmark victory, the High Commissioner’s words might as well have spoken in an unintelligible language.
This is not to say his stance is incorrect; in fact he makes a compelling case that using terrorism to sweep exigent issues under the rug only exasperates the problem. However, it is the effectiveness of this stance that is in question.
Pakistan’s diplomacy at this point consist of inert calls for tolerance and cooperation interspersed with petitioning global multi-lateral organizations for intervention – both of which are useless when facing an irrational, uncooperative and belligerent India. With the BJP securing this victory, the chance of a more reasonable faction in Indian politics coming to the fore has all but disappeared. It is time the Pakistani diplomacy adapts to this changing environment if it is to make any meaningful change to the plight of the Kashmiris.