Nawaz Sharif’s earnest desire to forge friendship with India has hit the rocks. And Modi’s initiative at UFA has, more or less, petered out.

At UFA, Nawaz was out-witted by Modi where a joint statement pinned the agreed meeting of the two Security Advisors to a talk exclusively on terrorism. Mumbai was mentioned but no other specific issue was referred to, although the general opening statement did acknowledge the willingness for discussing other issues.

PML-N government came in for sharp criticism for not including the Kashmir question in the joint statement. Sartaj Aziz and the Foreign Office realizing their slip-up tried to make amends by stating that the issue of Kashmir too would be raised at the Delhi meeting of the Security Advisors. Sartaj also said that he would be carrying a dossier containing evidence of India’s involvement in terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan. To this the South Block in New Delhi reacted stridently and asserted that only terrorism would be taken up at the meeting. It also strongly objected to Hurriyat and other Kashmiri leaders meeting Sartaj Aziz in New Delhi and was critical of the Pakistani Ambassador in India having already sent invitations to the Kashmiri leaders. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Soraj held a press conference a day before the meeting and asked Pakistan to strictly adhere to the UFA statement and not to raise the Kashmir issue as otherwise there would be no talks. Pakistan refused to accept the pre-condition and the talks collapsed.

This episode not only brought out the real motive behind the UFA agreement to open talks which plainly meant to keep Pakistan pressed hard to speed-up action against the alleged planners of the Mumbai incident. Thus the signal from New Delhi was that on no account will India discuss Kashmir at present. One may remember here that Modi Sarkar has an elaborate agenda to fully integrate Kashmir into the Indian Union. For reference one may read the BJP manifesto which inter-alia aims at doing away with Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and upset the population equation by resettling not only the Kashmiri pundits but others too under various pretexts.

Pakistan having been rebuffed on Kashmir is beginning to realize, Modi’s statements in Bangladesh and Dubai and unprovoked across borders firing, especially keeping in view, there is only a remote possibility of witnessing any positive progress during his stewardship of Indian affairs.

Focusing on Kashmir, Islamabad appears to be adopting a pro-active role once again internationalizing the issue. UN has already been alerted where according to Sartaj Aziz. Pakistan’s documented charges against Indian terrorism would be provided to the Security Council Office. Our able representative at the UN has already been briefed.

If the Pakistan government is really serious about reviving internationally the Kashmir question, it must develop a multi-faceted strategy to effectively prepare and project its case abroad. This should include besides intelligent diplomatic work, use of public diplomacy to influence think tanks, media and international civil society organizations. To do these tasks considerable funds would be required and a special Wing in the Foreign Office.

Before doing so, Pakistan government has to convince itself that it fully believes in its stand and can stoutly defend it when questioned by India and other entities.

India is bound to focus on the Simla agreement and remind Pakistan and the world that Islamabad had agreed to bilateralize the Kashmir question and the matter if and when taken up would be based on mutual engagements.

Pakistan can deal with this stand on the part of India by saying that bilateral approach having failed, the matter has to go back to the international community, specifically to United Nations whose resolutions and the commitments made by the UN Commission on Kashmir are still intact, valid and fully relevant.

And if India puts forward the plea that people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir have voted in large numbers to elect a democratic government which works within the Indian Constitution the answer is that a UN Security Council Resolution passed in 1957 specifically rejected this pretext for avoiding the implementation of the UN decision to hold a plebiscite for the Kashmiris to decide which country they would like to opt to join: India or Kashmir. Moreover can there be free and fair elections in a state where India keeps stationed more than half a million soldiers who can arrest, rape and kill Kashmiris with impunity round the year, under special draconian laws.

A tremendous amount of damage was caused to the Kashmir issue when because of the misadventure of a dictator Pakistan was accused as an intruder and had to suffer humiliation by beating a retreat with US help. This intrusion was dubbed as terrorism and Pakistan stood demonized in the eyes of the international community.

Another blow to the Kashmir cause came when our last military director flushed with the ambition of finding a way to deal with the Kashmir issue expressed willingness to move away from the UN Resolutions on the future of the state and came up with an “out of the box” (bizarre) solution. It was a fatal slip. If Pakistan had disregarded the UN Resolutions and the proposed plebiscite, it practically would have lost its Locus Standi on Kashmir. Loss of the Kashmir issue’s linkage with UN meant the loss of Pakistan’s acknowledged stand as a party to the dispute.

After a long time a spokesman of the US Administration has recently acknowledged that Kashmir is “a disputed territory” which directly nullifies India’s claim that Kashmir is an integral part of the country and is its Atut Ang. Pakistan government should thank Washington for this positive gesture and appeal to it to help resolve the dispute.

Pakistan as one of the two parties to the “India—Pakistan Question” as written in UN documents, has every right to provide political and diplomatic support to the cause of Kashmir and undertake initiatives which highlight India’s state terrorism. It need not rely on information gathered by it about atrocities in Kashmiri. All it has to do is to cite facts and figures documented year after year by the Human Rights Watch (USA) and Amnesty International (UK) on how the Kashmiris are repressed, how more than a hundred thousands have been killed and how lives of the besieged and starved Kashmirs have been made terribly miserable.

Sooner or later, India realizing that the shortest route to the Central Asian States (with whom Modi recently entered into trade and investment deals) is through Pakistan, it is bound to pick up the broken string of talks between the two countries. Pakistan need not rush to consider India’s request for such an access.

Pakistan can afford to wait.

With China firmly standing with us and the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear power, there is no reason why we should feel unnecessarily worried.

At the same time we have to keep putting our house in order.