While the people of Kashmir are getting marginalised, the politicians of this side of the border are using this opportunity to score quick points by jumping on the ‘Support-Kashmir’ bandwagon, without a thought to actual initiatives. Pakistan was always the only real voice of the Kashmiri people, yet politicians in the status quo seemed to have forgotten that this is more than just a political slogan. With the elections in AJK forthcoming, political parties from PPP to PTI have all mentioned the name, and that they stand with those fighting oppression in Kashmir, but when has anyone done anything more tangible? The PPP Chairman may huff and puff at this perceived Modi-Sharif friendship, but he seems to have forgotten that his own party’s government sent their Foreign Minister to India to make amends.

The matter as it stands is this: India has made diplomatic strides in the international arena, which it uses to pursue its age-old narrative of Pakistan using terrorism to coerce neighbouring countries. The evidence for this is never forthcoming, and even though the accusations always include the freedom fighters in Kashmir (implicitly if not explicitly), Pakistan’s sphere of influence in the disputed region is of absolutely no consequence if the people of Kashmir are the ones being constantly victimised by Indian security forces. Pakistan does not have to conduct any subversive activities in the region because India can do that job on its own, by killing innocent people or important leaders, sowing the seeds for a very permanent disconnect from the Indian state.

Pakistan has enjoyed a long and productive diplomatic journey, and restarting a long-term foreign policy is fundamental to maintaining relations with India and other countries in the future. Kashmir should no longer be a side issue in that policy. Reminding the world that India commits daily atrocities in Kashmir has to be a constant process, if the Kashmir issue is ever likely to be resolved. How Bilawal Bhutto’s criticism of the sitting PM does this is anybody’s guess. Making India admit that there is a problem is the first step, and that only comes through international pressure. Issuing condemnations over issues such as this is only half the job, keeping an updated log of atrocities committed and people marginalised comes next, followed by the constant reminder that India might be the biggest democracy in numbers, but it still has a long way to go if it can call itself an international power. Kashmir cannot be glossed over when dealing with India internationally, and the politicians at home have the responsibility to ensure that this becomes a long-term action plan that supersedes the political affiliation of the current government.