Pity a country that has events come its way but unwilling to capitalise them; neither prepared, nor desirous of seizing the moment. A political establishment besieged within by acts of massive corruption and self-aggrandisement has no time for statecraft. Deprived of a cohesive national narrative, physiological integrity is a by-product of fear. Today, it is not the Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir but the thumping success of the federal government in Azad Kashmir elections that makes headlines. This is the failing of Pakistani leaders.

Change is a distant dream. Such notions were like a Godot. The promise was elusively a small whirlwind that ultimately got sucked into the twister. The helmsman is desperately wading against the flow with his men paddling the other way. When politics is based on opportunity and immorality, it does not matter why and how. The people deserve what they have brought upon themselves. Pakistan does not.

At a time when the Indian law enforcement agencies are on a killing spree and its media on hype, Pakistan’s official response was missing. In the absence of foreign and defence ministers, the belated reaction was traditional jargon. Meanwhile, the government’s priorities were to survive the allegations of Panama; and an army hell bent on concluding the objectives of counterterrorism. Its priority is to improve relations with India through a co-opted a section of the media. Prime Minister’s denial of Pakistan’s raison de etre is public. He wants to set the template back to 1940. Kashmir remains a stumbling block towards the goals of free trade with India, motorways plugged with heavy traffic connecting India to Central Asia and the fledging steel empires; A South Asia like the Eurozone with free borders and common currencies and a strategic compass controlled by India.

But there were other opportunities to seize. Living in a bubble of vulnerability, the part time defence minister seized the failed Turk coup to spend a night passing slants on Pakistan’s defence establishment. Overnight, he spun narratives against Pakistan’s military to back roll its growing popularity. But this was not the only distraction. Elections in Azad Kashmir were used to put shutters on Indian held Kashmir. Rather than use the electoral atmosphere to show solidarity with the besieged Kashmiris, the culture of Lahori politics over shadowed the tragic events.

The major opposition from Sindh having delivered nothing to Azad Kashmir in five years made frantic efforts to enliven Bhutto’s legacy. But that legacy died with Benazir Bhutto. Once the party of the left, it has become a fascist organisation.

Any hope that existed evaporated before it reached the fertile soils. The party of change with the colloidal of political debris fared no better. Defying timelines of human nature aggravates misery.

Kashmir was used for point scoring sans ethical and moral urge to lower the rhetoric and give the people a genuine chance to exercise their will. The entire political atmosphere revolved around jargon to intermittently remind besieged Kashmiris that there were somewhere in the periscope. Elections Azad Kashmir 2016 can be equated to a shark eating frenzy in a bloodied sea that eclipsed realities. This loss of hearts and minds could go a long way to haunt.

But this is not the first time that the issue of Kashmir has been relegated.

The bilateralism of Shimla became the first obstacle to international interventions in Kashmir. Unlike India, Pakistan failed to sell its arguments to the world spellbound by the narration of events in East Pakistan. The change of Ceasefire line to Line of Control and Line of Actual Control speaks volumes of Pakistan’s failed diplomacy despite UN assertions, an implied reference to the plebiscite.

Bilateralism has consistently failed. Kargil was a misadventure to reset the sails. It failed because an enabling international environment had not been shaped. The recourse was to jump to the other end of the pendulum.  Musharraf’s Track 2 and 3 Diplomacy was doomed to fail amidst mutual suspicion and accusations. Combined, these put Kashmiri people in a time warp and cocoon that blind the international community.

Bilateralism was always an option but did not rule out international interventions. Amongst the 14 United Nations Security Council Resolutions there are nine that pertain to United Nation’s responsibility for a plebiscite in the region. The purpose of United Nation’s Commission on India and Pakistan was to work out modalities for this purpose. Even after unilateral Indian legislations on the subject, United Nations continued to argue that these did not make its resolutions irrelevant. UNSC Resolution 122 says that such acts (the new J&K Constitution) do not make for a final settlement of Kashmir. Incidentally, this resolution marks the point when India gave up pretending it was interested in the plebiscite.

Sir Owen Dixon, an eminent jurist from Australia reported to the Security Council on 15 September 1950 that:

“In the end I became convinced that India’s agreement would never be obtained to demilitarization in any form or to the provisions governing the period of plebiscite of any such character, as would in my opinion, permit the plebiscite being conducted in conditions sufficiently guarding against intimidation and other forms of influence and abuse by which the freedom and fairness of the plebiscite might be imperilled.”

Professor Josef Korbel, Former Chairman of UNCIP – Father of Madeline Albright, Former US Secretary of State wrote:

“The accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India cannot be considered as valid by canons of international law… The history of the case has made it clear that time has only aggravated, not healed the conflict; … No high hopes should be entertained that bilateral negotiations will lead to a settlement… The United Nations has a principal responsibility to seek a solution.”

Despite such backing by neutral negotiators, Pakistan failed to internationalise the Kashmir issue.  Most live no more but men of the calibre of Noam Chomsky still exist who recently said that “Indian Army should leave Kashmir. Kashmir has had an awful story, especially since late 80’s after that fake election and that there have been horrible atrocities.” Even President Obama said in 2010, “Kashmir is a disputed territory and its resolution is in the interest of India, Pakistan and the region and the United States of America.” Pakistan’s support includes American and British heads of states, UN negotiators and international opinion makers over the past seventy years.

Pakistan has no option but to go back to the Security Council. In changing geo-strategic environments, the world will not listen to a weak and pliant Pakistan. Pakistan has to reset and strengthen national power that makes policies viable. This needs Pakistan standing on its own feet with a Diplomatic Refresh; Indeed a tall order in the backdrop of how bubbling economies can be squeezed? Pakistan in 2007 and Turkey are recent examples.

Pakistan will have to make its case on two valid grounds that could blow holes in Indian twin policy on Kashmir viz a viz the Instrument of Accession and prelude/follow up of Article 370.

First, Indian letter of 27 October 1947 signed by Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten accepted the accession with a remark, “it is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.” This reference to the people is missing in Indian policy.

The Accession itself was based on an illegal amendment to 1935 Act that omitted the words, ‘Will of the People’ reinserted in Mountbatten’s letter. Field Marshal Manekshaw’s memoirs contradict the Indian assertion that the Maharaja wrote a letter on 26 October 1947 to the Government of India, incidentally the same day that Menon and Manekshaw landed at Srinagar to get the Instrument signed and hand over Lord Mountbatten’s letter. These revelations challenge Indian veracity when read in concert with Alastair Lamb’s ‘Birth of a Tragedy: 1947’.

Secondly, the Indian amendments to 1935 Act were illegal to give cover to the Instrument of Accession. Article 370 was inserted to keep options of a plebiscite open. 1957 marks the point when India gave up pretending it was interested in the plebiscite and began eroding article 370. India is defying trend lines of history; it has missed the train of Kashmir. Kashmir could result in disintegration of India.

So while Pakistan should continue challenging the erosion of Plebiscite, legal grounds and international opinion exists questioning Indian paramountcy, Instrument of Accession and exercise of the will of the people. Pakistan must have Kashmir desks in all its embassies, must engage Kashmiri politicians of other countries and not hesitate from a virtual plebiscite. The synergy thus created will break the logjam.

On the home front, Pakistan’s left must be co-opted. It was Faiz who began the support. His poetry must find place in Kashmir’s narratives.