The movement of the Kashmiri people for the exercise of their right of self-determination, which had been simmering for a long time, has been transformed into a full-blown struggle for liberation from the brutal Indian military occupation. The martyrdom of Burhan Wani, a young Kashmiri freedom fighter, on 8 July at the hands of the Indian forces has inflamed the passions of the Kashmiri people, putting the whole of Kashmir on fire. Kashmiri men, women and even children are exhibiting inimitable courage and bravery in facing the reign of terror let loose by the Indian occupation force consisting of over 600,000 troops. In the process, about 110 Kashmiris have laid down their lives, hundreds of them have lost their eyesight due to the use of pellet guns by the Indian soldiers, and more than six thousand have been injured. It goes to the credit of the Kashmiri people that the Indian forces have not succeeded in denting their resolve to gain freedom from the immoral and illegal Indian military occupation despite atrocities and the continuous curfew since 8 July.

Instead of recognising the legitimacy of the Kashmiri freedom struggle based on the UN Security Council resolutions, India has been trying to characterize it as “terrorism”. Instead of recognising the indigenous character of the Kashmiri liberation struggle, the Narendra Modi-led Indian government has been trying to blame Pakistan for exporting “terrorism” to the Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK). The reality is that Kashmir is a disputed territory as recognised by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The reality is that the people of Kashmir still have to exercise their right of self-determination as enshrined in those resolutions. The reality is that India, having accepted those resolutions, has gone back on its commitments to the Kashmiri people and to the international community. It is instead engaged in a brutal attempt to suppress the heroic freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people through the use of force.

Indian attempts to portray this struggle as “cross-border terrorism exported by Pakistan” are bound to fail as the reality of its indigenous character asserts itself not only in India but, more importantly, on the conscience of the international community. It is in this context that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent address to the UN General Assembly and his meetings with the various world leaders to highlight the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for the exercise of their right of self-determination and India’s use of brute force to suppress the voice of the Kashmiri people assume especial importance. Pakistan’s diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiri freedom struggle at all relevant multilateral institutions and in our exchanges with foreign governments must continue with maximum possible vigour within the limits of our resources and within the parameters of a carefully crafted grand strategy.

We should particularly highlight the flagrant and massive violations of the human rights of the Kashmiri people by the Indian forces. Dossiers of the supporting evidence in this regard must be provided to foreign governments, especially those who claim to be champions of human rights, and relevant multilateral institutions. However, our support to the Kashmir cause must be maintained at a level which is sustainable by us for an indefinite period of time. It would be counter-productive to raise the intensity of our support to a very high level for a short time only to forget the Kashmir cause later as has been the case occasionally in the past. We must remember that the longevity of the support is much more important than its intensity.

Simultaneously, we must take steps to ensure that no state institution or “non-state actor” from the Pakistani side gets involved in exporting militancy to IOK. The Kashmiri liberation struggle in its current phase is entirely indigenous. It is in the interest of the Kashmiri people as well as in our long-term interest that it remains so. It is even more important that nobody from the Pakistani side is allowed to engage in any terrorist activity in India proper. The international community simply will not condone any transgression of this nature. Any Pakistani group or individuals involved in such activities must be arrested and punished in accordance with our laws.

There are confirmed reports about India’s official involvement in supporting and sponsoring terrorist activities in different parts of Pakistan, particularly FATA, Balochistan and Karachi. The arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav, a serving Indian naval officer, in Balochistan on charges of involvement in terrorist activities has provided incontrovertible proof of Indian official support and sponsorship of terrorist activities in Pakistan. We must collect all the relevant evidence in this regard and bring it to the notice of foreign governments both bilaterally and multilaterally. There cannot be two sets of rules for India and Pakistan on the issue of terrorism. They must be judged by the same standards.

The attack on an Indian army brigade headquarters at Uri near LOC on 18 September killed 18 Indian soldiers besides injuring several more. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. However, India, without proper investigation and as a knee-jerk reaction, blamed Jaish-i-Mohammad for the attack, an allegation which was immediately rejected by Pakistan. Islamabad categorically stated that no infiltration was allowed from the Pakistani side and that watertight arrangements were in place on both sides of the Line of Control to check and prevent it. Pakistan also suggested to the Indian side to share with it any actionable intelligence in this regard. Later developments confirmed that India had made the initial allegations without proper investigation and without any hard evidence. The possibility cannot be ruled out that the Uri attack may have been carried out by the Kashmiri freedom fighters from IOK in response to the brutalities committed by India in the territory.

What is illogical is the reaction of some of the Western governments which condemned the Uri attack as an act of terrorism while maintaining silence on the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces against the Kashmiri people struggling for the exercise of their right of self-determination as enshrined in the UN Security Council resolutions. It seemed that the huge loss of the lives of the Kashmiri people and injuries to thousands of them in IOK at the hands of the Indian forces were acceptable to them while denying the Kashmiri people the right to defend themselves against the Indian barbarism.

The hypocrisy of the Western governments concerned proved once again that decisions on major issues of war and peace are taken by great powers on the basis of realpolitik and not on the basis of international law or morality. This is the lesson that Pakistan’s policy makers must remember while crafting our long-term India and Kashmir policies. This lesson dictates that Pakistan must develop itself economically at a fast pace, strengthen itself militarily, stabilize itself politically and adopt a pro-active, low-risk and non-adventurous foreign policy while building up a countervailing alliance of nations to face the expected pressure on us from the Indian side in pursuit of its hegemonic designs in South Asia.

There is a strategic imperative of peace in South Asia because of the status of Pakistan and India as de facto nuclear-weapon states. We must, therefore, keep open the door of a dialogue with India to resolve outstanding issues whenever it is ready to walk through it. India, however, should be disabused of the notion that dialogue is a favour to be granted by it to Pakistan.