“By starting Article 257 with the word “When”, as against “If” or something else less affirmative than “When”, the Pakistani Constitution itself has made a total mockery of the principle of a referendum”
Pardeep Singh Bali
Even when India is reeling under the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistani ‘Think-Tanks’ have found an opportunity to hop on ‘Twitter Spaces’ to indoctrinate youth about Kashmir.
None other than former Pakistani High Commissioner to India and a shrewd diplomat-Abdul Basit moderates the discussion, which is highly ‘provocative’ in nature and filled with ‘deceitful narratives’.
However, this covert agenda run by Pakistani Think-Tanks has come at a time when both the countries have agreed to a “strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors”.
From engaging local youth of Kashmir in discussions, certainly against India, to brainwashing them with convenient narratives by quoting from religious texts, the Pakistani Think-Tanks are quite active on Twitter spaces and Fanclub spaces.
In one of the recent virtual events, organized by a so-called Pakistan based Think-Tank group and attended by Abdul Basit, the role and policy of Pakistan viz-a-viz Kashmir issue was discussed.
During the course of the discussion, while many Pakistani participants reprimanded the authorities for being flexible towards India on its policy for Kashmir, many Kashmiri participants questioned the sincerity of Pakistan in resolving the Kashmir issue.
One of the Kashmir participants asked Abdul Basit, “What is the policy of Pakistan on Kashmir, especially after India abrogated its special status.” On this Basit, responded by swearing the sacrifices of the Kashmiri youth and said Pakistan is trying to pressurize India to atleast accept that Kashmir is a dispute.
“Instead of snapping relationships with India on Kashmir issue, Pakistan authorities are trying to exert pressure on India to accept Kashmir as a dispute and in doing so, Pakistan is exposing India on International forums,” said Abdul Basit, in response to a question.
He, however, accepted that diplomatically India is far ahead of Pakistan in dealing with Kashmir.
“I do not shy away in accepting that Pakistan is in absolute state of confusion with regard to Kashmir problem and I am saying this with responsibility because when India abrogated Article 370, Pakistan was felicitating the opening of Kartarpur Corridor in Punjab,” said Basit, adding that at that time, he wanted the government to adjourn the opening of corridor, as a mark of protest, but Pakistan did not concede his request.
Answering to the question about the demand of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) for an independent Jammu and Kashmir, Basit said that the same demand is utopian, as it is not possible. The only option with Kashmir is to either remain with India or secede from India.
“Although Islamabad has always supported Kashmir’s UN-sanctioned Right to Self Determination, it has also been wary of Kashmiri nationalism that envisions a state free from both India and Pakistan,” Basit said and added that however, after joining Pakistan, the Kashmiris shall be given an opportunity to decide their future, as per the provisions of the Pakistani constitution.
He said that ‘Article 257’ of the Pakistani Constitution has a provision, wherein a plebiscite shall be held in Kashmir, after it decides to secede from India.
Meanwhile, it is pertinent to mention here that the 1974 Interim Constitution of ‘Azad’ J&K is not the only place where Pakistan’s insecurity over its lack of a legal title over J&K comes through.
Article 257 of the Pakistani Constitution of 1973 quaintly states that, “When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State”. By starting Article 257 with the word “When”, as against “If” or something else less affirmative than “When”, the Pakistani Constitution itself has made a total mockery of the principle of a referendum. Meanwhile, successive Pakistani leaders, civilian and military alike, have contradictorily but consistently harped upon holding of a referendum. However, if the Pakistani Constitution is to be taken at face value, the accession of J&K to Pakistan is already a foregone conclusion.
The discussion, which was held on ‘Twitter Space’ had engaged over 200 people from Pakistan and Kashmir, wherein Jammu and Kashmir was consistently referred to as ‘Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir’, including participants from Kashmir.
The speakers from Pakistan, evidently to trigger the emotional susceptibilities of the Kashmiri participants, stressed on the ‘highhandedness of Indian Army’, ‘unilateral abrogation of Article 370’, ‘making Kashmir an open jail’ and ‘petrifying state of Muslims under Narendra Modi regime’. They also eulogized Kashmiri youth for keeping the spirit of ‘Azadi’ high by sacrificing their lives for a major cause in the path of religion.
When this journalist intended to question the Pakistan based speakers about their attempts to spin the narratives, he was ousted from the Twitter space.