Pakistan considers the region as its integral part or “jugular vein” owing to its Islamic ideology on an ideal plane and realistic plane due to its strategic position. This means that Kashmir is vital for its survival.
The current government of Pakistan has continued the policy of its all predecessors about Kashmir that is of bilateral dialogue with India. However, the situation changed as a result of India’s unilateral move to end Kashmir’s special status. This move has endangered the future of bilateral talks with hostile neighbors.
Since the Simla Agreement, prime ministers of both countries agreed on a policy of bilateral relations. Many attempts of bilateral dialogue were set forth at different points of history after that though the relations got worse after Kargil and subsequent use of force.
In the last decade, India has adopted an aggressive policy regarding Kashmir and Muslims not only in Kashmir but in the whole country. In response, Pakistani foreign policy has remained reactionary in these years. During these years Pakistan has supported the voices suppressed and people killed inside Indian Occupied Kashmir. This government had a passive policy regarding Kashmir during its election campaign and in the initial period as it remained a non-issue for their manifesto.
In the initial period, the present government, opened the Kartarpur corridor, as a goodwill gesture for the Indian pilgrims which was supposed to be a diplomatic achievement. However, this effort was soon thrown into vain by an inside job which left around 40 Indian soldiers dead in Indian occupied Kashmir after which Indian Airforce tried to make a preemptive strike, which again resulted in the destruction of two Indian jets and captivity of a pilot.
Soon after these developments, the BJP campaigned elections with a mandate revolving around the alleged terror attack on Indian soldiers and right after their win, they revoked Kashmir’s special status and brought changes into land rights, domicile laws and other crucial rules threatening the demographic composition of the valley.
Just after the scrapping of Kashmir’s special status, Prime minister the current government took the Kashmir issue seriously and focused its foreign policy over it. These developments posed a challenge to Pakistan’s military superiority along the line of control and the ambition of acquiring its “jugular vein”.
Even after such hostile attempts from the Indian state, Pakistan has sustained its policy of bilateral talks and Prime minister Imran Khan has still expressed hope to resolve the conflict by dialogues. Pakistan has raised the issue of Indian suppression of Kashmiris on every international forum and advocated for international intervention.
As a result, Pakistan got overwhelming support from different nations across the globe including China, Turkey, Malaysia and other OIC members. However, realistically, the greater members in the international arena have been influenced by the Indian lobby because of it being the greatest market in the region. There are not so many buyers of Pakistan’s narrative at this point. The other four permanent members of the UNSC and the Arab nations have declared the Indian atrocities in Kashmir “an internal issue” and have not considered any international action. Modi’s government has suggestively restructured relations with KSA and UAE, partly because of Modi’s personal approach to attract political leaders, as well as providing profitable economic opportunities in India, especially in energy, infrastructure and agriculture sectors.
The international “silence” on India’s increasing authoritarianism reached a climax when no denunciation was observed following the discriminatory citizenship laws against Muslims that were passed by India at the end of last year. US’s stance on Kashmir has suggested that the balance of power in South Asia has changed the US-Pakistan relations. The factor is China, the “iron-brother” and “all-weather friend” of Pakistan. Huge Chinese investment has transformed Pakistan an interest zone for China, the revoking of articles 370 and 35A has instigated China and was the catalyst for the recent skirmish at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh.
In the coming days, Pakistan is likely to continue its diplomatic negotiations and avoid military standoffs. At this moment, any military advance against the isolated country (against China, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan) would backfire providing India the rationale to attack Pakistan more aggressively and would also create a malign image of Pakistan internationally depriving it of the economic assistance it is receiving for its survival. However, military action as an act of defense like that of 27th February last year would maintain Pakistan’s challenging position along the LoC. Overall, Pakistan’s best policy in the future would be of self-restraint and watching India committing self-enforced blunders.