The recent Indo-Pak tensions have brought the Kashmir issue in global limelight. Contrary to what Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have envisaged, the so-called Indian air strike on Pakistan’s Balakot town has rather turned international attention towards the longstanding conflict.
More and more countries are now willing to mediate or play a role in the resolution of the dispute that has the potential to trigger a war between the two nuclear-capable neighbours. Major players like the US, the EU and the Middle East are offering to act as go-betweens with Pakistan and India to help them de-escalate the tensions that centre around Kashmir.
To quote noted Indian writer Arundhati Roy, Modi has “inadvertently undone what previous Indian governments, almost miraculously, succeeded in doing for decades” i.e. calling Kashmir an “internal matter” and an “integral part of India”. Courtesy the Modi style of politics, the Kashmir dispute stands internationalised.
Significantly noteworthy is the interest that the US and Saudi Arabia are taking in the context. The US is even calling upon the two sides to engage in ‘direct’ communication – something that has been confirmed by the State Department’s Deputy Spokesperson, Robert Palladino, during a regular news briefing.
Palladino has also confirmed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had spoken to Pakistan and Indian leaders, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, and played an ‘essential’ role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides.
The daylong visit to Pakistan yesterday by Saudi Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir also resulted in assurances to Foreign Minister Qureshi of Riyadh’s complete and overwhelming support towards solving the issues with India in a peaceful manner.
Whether India will be compelled to come to the dialogue table is a different debate, but it certainly is a win-win situation for Pakistan. The onus has shifted to the government in New Delhi. The ball is certainly in India’s court, as also pointed out by Pakistan military’s spokesperson Major Gen Asif Ghafoor in the wake of the release of the captured Indian pilot as a peace gesture.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2019.