Islamabad - Pakistan needs to reform itself and repair its image abroad for effectively advocating Kashmir’s freedom struggle, which requires more than an array of inconsequential statements and resolutions from Islamabad, Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) suggests in a set of recommendations on supporting the latest uprising in Indian Held Kashmir.

The recommendations were presented at the conclusion of a roundtable discussion participated by retired diplomats and representatives of think tanks, academia, and media houses. The roundtable had been convened by SVI, an Islamabad-based think tank, in the backdrop of the recent wave of protests in the held Valley that started on July 9. Over 40 people have been killed so far and about 2,000 got injured as Indian security forces employed excessive use of force to quell the protests.

The recommendations come ahead of the planned joint session of the parliament for deliberating on the situation in Held Kashmir.

SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema while presenting the recommendations called for a fundamental review of the strategies used in the past for supporting Kashmir struggle that have failed to achieve the desired results. The SVI proposals further called for greater public participation, particularly of the youth, in the effort for highlighting the plight of Kashmiris. Additionally, it has been advised that instead of just addressing the Indian government, Pakistan should also engage other opinion groups in India which do not necessarily share Delhi’s position on the situation in Kashmir.

Speaking at the roundtable Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, who held number of senior diplomatic assignments during his Foreign Service career, said: “We have to strengthen Pakistan in a way that it can put across its point on Kashmir and the world recognizes it as a reasonable and developing country, which does not promote instability and whose opinion carries weight.”

Qazi opined that it was the only way Pakistanis can draw the world’s attention towards Kashmir. “We would be mistaken if we think that the world would censure India because of morality and values.”

Besides, improving its international image and improving ties with India, Pakistan, he said, would have to keep the Kashmiris united on the agenda of freedom. He believed that the section of Kashmiris favouring ‘third option’ can be addressed by highlighting Article 257 of Pakistan’s Constitution, which states: “When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State.”

The bottom line, he said, is that Pakistanis need to be sincere about Kashmir.

Former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said more is needed to be done on Kashmir than just the diplomatic outreach of the Foreign Office.

“We should use social media more effectively. Youth should reach out to the world to show Indian brutalities against Kashmir. Ugly face of India and hollowness of its democratic credentials need to be exposed,” Bashir, who has remained high commissioner in India, said.

Bashir, who fears that Pakistan was out of touch with changing international realities, said “Our views about India are also clouded; we do not understand what India is. India is not just Delhi; it is a multi-ethnic, multi-culture and multi-religion society. Moreover, it is a union of several states.”

Noting that “lip-service on Kashmir” through inconsequential statements was no longer an option, he asked for thinking out of the box for ways for supporting Kashmir cause.

Dr Ishtiaq Hussain, Director School of Politics and International Relations at Quaid-e-Azam University, suggested that Pakistanis needed to take up the Kashmir issue as a humanitarian one instead of looking at it from the narrow lens of patriotism.

“Kashmir is about people and their aspirations and not territory, religion and culture,” he added.