Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Politics As Usual In Pakistan

Pakistan has not been able to accept the fact that the Kashmir issue has become a closed chapter for the international community. Ever since the revocation of the special status of the erstwhile Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan went overboard trying to attract attention to it. However, India successfully conveyed to the world that New Delhi had acted as per its Constitution and the changes were within the ambit of India’ sovereignty.

Now, as Islamabad finds itself being increasingly isolated, Pakistani politicians politicking over Kashmir and the government seems to be absent. The Pakistani Minister for “Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit & Baltistan” Ali Amin Gandapur has threatened to “hit countries that side with India over the Kashmir issue with missiles”.

The bombastic Gandapur in an interview to a local Pakistani television network has said, “If the tensions with India escalate on the issue of Kashmir, Pakistan will be forced into war and those standing with India on the Kashmir issue would have to face the consequences. Any country that supports India on Kashmir will be taken as an enemy of Pakistan. Missiles will be fired at that country also”. Gandapur is a politician of the mould of Sheikh Rashid, Pakistan’s Minister for Railways, who is a known for his outlandish comments.

It’s indeed ironical that the Oxonian Prime Minister of Pakistan has nominated such persons to the high offices they hold. The dream of ‘naya Pakistan’ is in tatters, because of motor-mouths like Gandapur and Rashid.

As Pakistan finds itself increasingly going back to turbulent times due to several domestic crises, the Imran Khan government is trying to cash in on the anti-India sentiments. Over the last three months, Pakistan has been engaging in diplomacy but to no avail.

It is clear that Imran Khan is on the back foot on the Kashmir issue. Pakistani analysts have clearly said that the international community, presently, does not view Kashmir from the Pakistani prism. India’s development model for the two new union territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been welcomed by global leaders. There is big possibility that international investments could now come into the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh too. India has many developmental plans for the two union territories. People of the two UTs will be stakeholders in the development of their regions.

The Pakistani Minister for Kashmir Affairs, Gandapur when asked about the development of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) said, “He would be happy to fight for the people”. Such kind of response is indeed baffling.

Meanwhile, as Pakistan government is trying to grab attention over Kashmir, thousands of anti-government protesters demanding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation over worsening economic conditions and alleged election rigging have gathered in Islamabad on the call of the right-wing religious leader, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, President of the Jamiat-Ulema- Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party.

Nicknamed “Maulana Diesel” (for his alleged role in a diesel scam), by Imran Khan himself; Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman has led the march from Karachi “The government will have to hand over power back to the people,” he thundered, while addressing supporters in Gujranwala. The Maulana further said, Imran Khan’s government has destroyed the economy.”

The country’s main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are supporting the JUI-F’s protest against Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which won last year’s controversial federal election.

Meanwhile Khan’s government has banned Ansar ul-Islam, the youth volunteer wing of the JUI-F, as a “terrorist organisation”. The JUI-F has challenged the decision in court. Many protestors have gathered in Islamabad and things could go out of hand.

Pakistani political analyst, Cyril Almeida has said the Khan government “should be worried” by the march. He added, “The Pakistan government is inexperienced and its ability to peacefully defuse a political crisis will be tested now. If the government panics or overreacts that leads to violence, matters could spiral out of control.”

This unfortunately is the tragedy and paradox of Pakistan.

 

Script: Kaushik Roy, Air: News Analyst

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