The statement by the spokesman of the Chinese Defence Ministry that Kashmir was a disputed territory was a result of the constant campaign mounted by the Pakistan government. The spokesman, who was speaking to a group of visiting Indian journalists, also said that China hoped that Pakistan and India would peacefully solve the Kashmir dispute. However, it would not escape the notice of careful observers that the spokesman did not mention the only realistic solution to the issue, which is the holding of a plebiscite in the Valley to determine the wishes of the people. This solution not only has the approval of the international community as it was propounded by the UN Security Council in its resolutions on the subject, but even India agreed at the time. That this has not percolated in the stance even of China, Pakistan’s all-weather friend, shows that Pakistani diplomacy has not succeeded. Since Pakistan must convince international opinion on the subject, and this must be done through diplomacy, this failure must be rated one that must not be ignored. There is no real point in repeated presidential trips to China if there is no tangible increase in support for Pakistan’s just stand on the Kashmir issue. Another significant omission, which was important before an Indian audience, was the highlighting of Indian intransigence in preventing the determination of the will of the Kashmiri people. This again shows that Pakistani diplomats have failed to convey their travails in talking to Chinese diplomats.

The situation in the Held Valley does not allow for this slipshod attitude by Pakistani diplomats. Over and above the atrocities routinely committed by the Indian occupation forces, which include killing people and flinging them into unmarked graves, there has been a fire at the tomb of Peer Dastageer Sahib, which led to six people being injured in clashes of an angered populace with the police. However, though the relic of Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jeelani at the shrine was saved, the occupied Kashmir was rendered even more disturbed by the fire.

India holds the key, because its refusal to allow a solution prevents a solution of the issue, now that other parties want to talk about a solution. In view of Indian intransigence, Pakistani diplomacy will have to focus on building international opinion for Kashmiri self-determination. The government must not fall prey to the desire of India to improve trade ties to India’s benefit, and to avoid mention of the core issue between the two countries.