Pakistani rulers – and they do see themselves as rulers rather than leaders – especially since 9/11 seem to be on a strange path of appeasing all powers that assert their hostility towards Pakistan. The unending unilateral concessions to the US by the Musharraf regime and continued by successor governments are now well documented. Yet even here some important concessions have escaped notice like the bilateral agreement signed 21 July 2003in Washington “Regarding the Surrender of Persons to International Tribunals”. This is in fact a document that provides immunity from prosecution to US personnel in Pakistan and prevents Pakistan from handing them over to international criminal courts. To date the democratic governments in Pakistan have failed to review this damaging agreement.

In a similar vein, it is now becoming evident that the Mumbai case against Pakistan was not grounded in legal realities of evidence at all, but our leaders were quick to buy the Indian version. Now the Pakistani lawyer involved has presented the real picture but the Pakistani media has chosen not to highlight it as strongly as it did the Indian and US takes on Mumbai. This is why we saw, in the Sharif-Obama meeting, the audacity of President Obama in taking up the Mumbai issue while Prime Minister Sharif failed to strongly take up the drone issue.

Even more inexplicable is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s continuing overtures to India which have been devoid of any reciprocity from the other side. He has offered an end to visa curbs and greater trade and has even sought to win favour with India by pointing out to the Indians that he did not criticize India at all during the election campaign in Pakistan. Why he would need to present this clarification is inexplicable! Of course, we all know and subscribe to the fact that it is in Pakistan and India’s mutual interest to have peace but there is a difference between peace and appeasement. Unfortunately, though, in the present case the Sharif overtures are appeasement because the Indians have reciprocated his goodwill with aggression across the LoC, unending accusatory and baseless allegations against Pakistan and the final hostile action announced by India – that of building a wall along the LoC.

For a government that has been so vocal in reaching out to India, the strange silence on this Wall issue is inexplicable, especially despite the fact that international law is on our side. In case the MFA has lost all rational and legal understanding, here is why the Indian policy of constructing a Wall or fence along the LoC is illegal and requires a strong response from the government of Pakistan.

One: The LoC is not an international border but merely a ceasefire line halting military hostilities. Kashmir is an international dispute still on the UN Security Council agenda and constructing a wall or a fence along this ceasefire line is a covert way of altering the status quo which is illegal.

Two: The Simla Agreement, Articles 1:ii and 4:ii specifically commit both states not to alter the status quo unilaterally.

Three: The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in an advisory opinion of 9 July 2004, pointed to the legal consequences of Israel constructing a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, after it asserted unanimously “that it has jurisdiction to give the advisory opinion requested by the United Nations General Assembly” and it decided by fourteen votes to one to comply with that request. By a fourteen to one majority, except one point where it was a thirteen to two majority, the court decided that the construction of the Wall was illegal under international law and named Israel as the occupying Power.

The ICJ also held that Israel was under an obligation “to terminate its breaches of international law” and stop further construction alongside dismantling the structure already constructed as well as the regulatory laws associated with it. The ICJ also stated that Israel was “under an obligation to make reparation for all the damage caused by the construction of the Wall” and, by a vote of thirteen to two, it decided that all states were under an obligation not to recognize the “the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction.”

The ICJ also pointed out that all States Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 1949 also have an “obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.”

The ICJ also stated that the UN, especially the GA and SC “should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated régime, taking due account of ICJ’s Advisory Opinion.

With all this wealth of international law and legal precedence, the silence of the government of Pakistan and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs on India’s announced plan of constructing a Wall along the LoC is only explicable in terms of a deliberate policy of appeasement towards India. If that be the case then there can be no meaningful peace in the subcontinent.  Kindling a spark for peace is good but not if it degenerates into a Tamasha of appeasement.