Unsurprisingly, New Delhi’s revocation of Occupied Kashmir’s special status, leading to a flare-up of Pak-India tensions, overshadowed Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishanker’s recent visit to Beijing – which was scheduled much in advance. His Chinese opposite number, Wang Yi, told him the constitutional amendment by India will change the status quo of the disputed area and result in regional tensions. China, he said, “opposes any unilateral action that will complicate the situation.” Earlier when Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in Beijing for consultations with its ‘all weather friend’, the Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement announcing that it would “uphold justice for Pakistan on the international arena” and that it supports the country’s decision to approach the UN Security Council (UNSC) in the wake of India’s decision to scrap Kashmir’s special status. Furthermore, echoing the statement issued by the UN Secretary-General’s office, it averred that the Kashmir dispute must be properly resolved “based on the UN Charter, relevant UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreements.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Qureshi talked about a letter he has written to the UN Secretary-General for circulation among UNSC members, drawing their attention to the threat India’s annexation move poses to peace and security of this region. He also called the UNSC President to discuss his request for convening an emergency meeting of the council on India’s “illegal actions that also violate UN resolutions on Kashmir” – there are as many as 11 resolutions, three of which pertain to the disputed region’s status. Outcome of this effort though hinges on what the five veto wielding permanent members of the UNSC – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – may decide. The US has said it still regards Kashmir as a disputed territory, Britain and the EU have expressed ‘concern’ over the status change, and China of course stands by its ally. Only Russia has called the Indian move an internal matter of India, apparently, to lend legitimacy to its own annexation of Crimea. However, even if the council meets to discuss India’s provocative decision to change the status of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), most P-5 members are unlikely to come out on the side of justice. The foreign minister has rightly cautioned that “the atmosphere is not favourable [for this country].”
Unfortunately, the UN Charter and international norms as they affect states’ behaviour take a back seat when it comes to the interests of big powers. The US and EU countries, for instance, have been crying hoarse over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and yet the former actively encouraged Israel to annex East Jerusalem as well as the Golan Heights, while the Europeans merely confined themselves to voicing concern over the blatant violation of UNSC resolutions and international law. Similarly, in the case of occupied J&K they are not about to take a strong principled stand against India in the UNSC because of their economic and strategic interests. But for the Kashmiri people it is a do or die situation. Despite the lockdown they have been coming out in large numbers to demand freedom from Indian rule. The situation is expected to become more and more volatile in coming days and months. And considering India’s usual practice in such times, it might resort to some false flag operation against Pakistan to divert attention from its gross human rights violations in J&K. That can easily spark a clash between the two nuclear-armed neighbours which, as Prime Minister Imran Khan has been warning, could lead to disastrous consequences for this region as well as the wider world. Good sense suggests influential international players recognise the gravity of the situation and help resolve the issue through peaceful means.