For the past 18 months, Kashmir has been taken up with a renewed vigour by Pakistan’s foreign policy planners, signaling the state is repositioning itself on a principled position on the issue. Much of its credit goes to the incumbent rulers in New Delhi. The recent reassertion of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy formally began with the emphatic mention of Kashmir in Pakistan PM’s speech at 69th Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held on September 26, 2014. Since then, reverberation of Pakistan’s traditional stance by the current regime has been echoed at all important national events coupled with the pronouncement of four point formula at the 70th Session of UNGA in 2015. Moreover, the Parliament’s standing Committee on Foreign Affairs has also put forward the policy proposals on the issue, which appears to be more cosmetic than substantive.

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While the renewed interest on Kashmir is encouraging and sends positive signals in Srinagar, it appears more rhetorical than substantive, lacking concerted effort to achieve desired goals vis-à-vis Kashmir. Given this policy void, the ten policy options on Kashmir are laid out for the powers that be in the country

I. The flip flop of regimes in Islamabad and inconsistency on Kashmir has caused a considerable dent and has fractured the national narrative particularly in the recent past. It has solidified this perception that the policy is revolved around three centers in the country in alphabetical order: i.e. Army, Bureaucracy and Civilian Regimes (ABC). As long as this fragmentation at the conception and execution of the policy persists among the state institutions, the desired dividends on Kashmir may hardly be achieved. So there is a need to think together, move together and act together to put in place a holistic policy on the issue.

II. Conventionally, foreign policy is largely an extension of domestic policy and Pakistan’s case in this context is not an exception. However, it appears that domestic security imperatives are damaging the line and length vis-a-vis Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. The domestic imperatives need not make the line hazy between the acts of terrorism and the genuine struggle of people to end the occupation. Rather, the distinction between two may stridently be asserted to keep Pakistan’s legitimate locus-standi intact on the issue.

III. There is a recent resurgence of uprising in Srinagar and adjoining areas. The three consecutive years of 2008, 2009 and 2010 are now termed in the contemporary Kashmiri narrative as 8/9/10 of Kashmir in which thousands of Kashmiris thronged the streets of Srinagar demanding the right to self determination. This peaceful and indigenous resurgence elicited voices from Indian intelligentsia giving credence in Indian civil society to the people’s right to decide their fate. The sentiments of resentment and alienation from the Indian Union can be gauged by the remarks of Dr Radha Kumar, Director General, Delhi Policy Group and a former Indian Government’s interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir in a speech on November 30, 2015 saying ‘India could lose Kashmir in the near future, if serious efforts were not made to resolve the lingering dispute’. Pakistan needs to take the emerging political trends in IHK in careful consideration and build on the options accordingly.

IV. The role of the 24-member Pakistan Parliament’s special Committee on Kashmir is abysmally poor. The committee was primarily constituted to project the Kashmir cause in the world fora’s over and currently having 66 Million Rupees as its annual budget, appears to be dysfunctional institution. It is high time that the Kashmir Committee may be reconstituted and made active by including the concerned people such as intelligentsia, diaspora’s living in European countries and stakeholders living in Pakistan and AJ&K in it and chalking out the strategies and measures to project the cause globally through consistent global campaigns and advocacy and generate the plausible discourse on the subject

V. Currently Azad Kashmir lies low in Pakistan’s national priorities. This is partly due to the peculiar status of the region which is not a federating unit of the Pakistan Federation but it is high time the State came up with the decision as to how the region could be uplifted while keeping its status intact. The region has a huge potential of tourism attractions which could make the region thriving. So a prosperous and thriving Azad Kashmir may widen Pakistan’s support base in IHK.

VI. It is an undeniable fact that Pakistan has significant clout in the freedom camp in Srinagar; it should encourage them to close their ranks, make their house in order and even broader to steer the freedom sentiments in the occupied region.

VII. Pakistan’s robust but inventive regional alignment may give the country a vantage point in India-Pakistan equation. Besides strengthening ties with China and Afghanistan, Pakistan, among the SAAR C countries, should particularly focus its ties with Nepal and Sri Lanka. The recent developments on Nepal’s political landscape provide opportunities for Pakistan to deepen its ties with her and augment its regional clout.

VIII. At present, India and Pakistan are engaged in an eight point framework where Kashmir and terrorism are treated simultaneously.

Though the history stands witness that the bilateralism did not yield the positive outcome in India- Pakistan context and perpetual stalemate does call for taking the true representatives of prime party of the dispute— the Kashmiris— on board, Pakistan in the current scenario, at least, should not give nod to restructure the current arrangement because India may try to change the framework to advance its narrative on terrorism.

IX. The arch architect of India’s Pakistan policy is Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor, who has conceived and designed his doctrine, famously known as Doval Doctrine, mainly based on his defensive-offensive approach to Pakistan as he publically outlined in a seminar, India’s moves need to be looked in this context which are largely aimed at sapping the will of Pakistan on Kashmir. So Pakistan needs to come out of the policy paradigm which it had framed in response to the Gujral Doctrine and instead examine the contours and nuances of the Doval Doctrine and come with overarching policy options.

X. Lastly, besides highlighting the human rights violations in IHK, Pakistan should particularly take into account the recent intellectual voices being raised from within India in favour of Kashmiris’ right of self-determination to decide their fate and consider as to how they could be strengthened and amplified.