Constant indifference by the present PPP government has led the Kashmiri leader Yaseen Malik to lament that not even once the word Kashmir has been said during the bilateral dialogue process. His remarks that the Kashmiris would not let the two countries put the conflict into cold storage and that they would be forced to launch an armed struggle again should be taken seriously. This should serve as a wake-up call for Islamabad because there is every likelihood that the stone-throwing youth in the Valley might take up arms to extract their right of self-determination.

Secondly since the statement is coming from someone who commands respect across the length and breadth of the Valley, it reflects the general resentment towards Pakistan’s ruling setup. Mr Yaseen Malik points an accusing finger at Islamabad for forsaking the people of Kashmir. Meanwhile, in an interesting development, the Indian textbooks taught in Srinagar Army Schools have shown Azad Kashmir as a part of Pakistan. The Gilgit area is also described as Northern Areas. This is a typical Indian gimmick. India has been calling the entire disputed state its ‘integral part’, part and parcel of its Akand Bharat campaign. However, it also feared that if the UNSC resolutions that accord Kashmiris the right to decide their fate through a free and impartial plebiscite were implemented, it might end up losing everything. Hence off and on it kept on suggesting to Pakistan that it should accept the status quo as an alternative to the UN proposed solution whereby both the countries would retain areas presently under their control. It is the prospect of this underhand deal that accounts for the change in the textbook. It is little wonder that the Kashmiris themselves are loath to any such idea. We have already fought three wars with India over the conflict and all of this bloodshed and sacrifices would be for nothing if the government were to agree to such Indian plans.

The only way forward is that we pressurise New Delhi into first calling back its troops and then letting the Kashmiris decide their future through a plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the UN. As Mr Yaseen has warned, the conditions are ripe for an armed campaign, which however must be seen against the backdrop of Kashmir as a nuclear flashpoint. The government must only continue with the dialogue process with the aim to make Kashmir the main item on the agenda. All other issues should hinge on that not vice versa.