Professional and efficient diplomatic corps is a vanguard in pursuing country’s national interests and defending it against external onslaughts. The task is continuous, arduous and demanding. It requires a variety of skills and knowledge that probably may exceed the challenges in any other profession. The diplomats need to have a good insight of world politics, international law, geo strategy, geoeconomy, communication skills, negotiating prowess, etc., just to name a few. Then they have to acquire an in-depth knowledge and details of the area or the issue wherever they are deputed. A challenging but at the same time a satisfying experience that can be rewarding for their country and for themselves. Pakistan luckily had the good luck of having some professional stalwarts leading our foreign office, also this portion of bureaucracy remained specialists rather than general-purpose unlike most of our remaining bureaucrats.

Any institution can only work optimally if it gets firm and robust long term policy directives that must come from apex political authority with only suggestive inputs from other relevant quarters, depending on the nature of subject under consideration. That unfortunately has not been Pakistan’s forte. Other important point to understand is that Foreign Policy can only be pursued remaining within the existing global political, economic and strategic frameworks. Also it can only extend itself around and up to the limitations laid out by own elements of power both developed and potential. At the same time it is of paramount importance for the diplomats to understand the world’s latest techniques (hybrid) in attacking the minds of the decision makers and practitioners and creating artificial blocks across their thought process when considering various options.

This discussion was necessary to understand the potentials and limitations of our foreign policy and diplomacy on Kashmir, and what can it really achieve on ground.

We hear a lot about various options that Pakistan pursued to resolve the issue from legal, political, diplomatic and kinetic angles. And now questions being asked if we are left with any further options? A valid query that needs to be considered with care and logic. The first and foremost factor that decides about the outcome of any national effort is the synchronisation and coordination amongst various elements of power, diplomacy being only one such element. If for example military instrument gets applied in isolation without conditioning the international and domestic political arena, and out of sync diplomatic manoeuvre, it is bound to fail. Political, economic, military and diplomatic actions must be well aligned and properly sequenced to achieve national goals. That has been our main weakness demonstrated over and over again. Please not this time!

What do we expect from our tireless diplomatic efforts on Kashmir? What is the potential of UN and other international forums and how can these be helpful in resolving the Kashmir issue? The present politico-economic global framework and the well-known influence of major powers on various international institutions preclude any decisive impact on Modi’s attitude by UN and other international forums. Unfortunately we as a country have not been able to create a political, strategic or economic clout in terms of regional or other blocks that could put its weight behind our stance today. Except for China (and that too more because of Chinese efforts) where we can proclaim to have strategic understanding, we have been flouting the opportunities and kept our gazed fixed on US and its allies.

Russians and Iranians kept turning to us multiple times and every time our sluggish and cold responses surprised them. Any major change ought to be a political decision and we cannot blame foreign office for that, except that more forthright inputs should have come from their side. But alas we may be having westernised and americanised individuals working as moles against our look east policy. All institutions need to be purged of such elements, and Army has taken lead in this respect. So the international political and diplomatic scenarios are fixed and loaded against our aspirations under the prevailing environment. We are sure that Prime Minister Imran Khan will deliver a fantastic speech, end September at UNGA, but it won’t help Kashmiri Cause much except for a temporary big applause. And also by that time Indians would have completed their first phase of military action, which is denting the Freedom Movement in IOK by decapitating the entire young leadership. And they (Indian Armed Forces) would have totally turned their guns towards LoC and international border. So investment and efforts in diplomacy alone, not likely to bring the desired results. And what are the immediately desired objectives:

1. Immediate lifting of curfew

2. Dispatching of international investigative team to evaluate the level of atrocities.

3. Provision of communication means, internet etc. to the locals.

4. Provision of food and medicine especially for children.

5. freeing of all that under custody and making lists of those martyred or raped.

One good thing that is showing positive results is the awareness campaign for the global civil society through media, social media and diaspora. This in turn can put some pressure on Nation States to review their indifferent attitude towards

Kashmiris’ plight on account of human rights violations. But it is going to be a long haul. So the diplomatic efforts, media, especially social media campaign and worldwide processions in support of Kashmiri cause must continue. Whereas all these efforts will keep the issue internationalised , however it will not change the Indian government’s and Forces attitude , nor likely to get UNSC new and effective resolution on the subject . It will create an environment in which Pakistan can pursue other actions in political and military arenas. All our efforts in diplomacy, media and awareness campaigns may go waste if we do not combine them with efforts in the political, legal and military areas.

What are those areas in the political, legal and military fields that we need to pursue concurrently? We are planning to go to ICJ against crimes being perpetrated by Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir. For that we first need to insist on an investigative team to be sent in the valley. We need to become a part of political, economic and military blocks aligned with China, Russia, and Turkey etc. The present visit by Chinese military delegation is a good political development.

We may ask UNGA and UNSC to arrange for partial plebiscite under their auspices within the free areas of Kashmir, and can be extended to IOK later whenever possible. May even think of revoking Simla Agreement as it has been violated by India a number of times. As IOK is without a legitimate government, it is proposed that a government in exile be propped up with the help of Kashmiri diaspora and friendly countries. Etc. etc. Of course, all these proposals merit deliberations and debate carefully weighing pros and cons, but should not be rejected summarily.

We must mobilise Kashmiri and Pakistani youth and train them to get ready to help own armed forces defend the motherland, and if required go and assist our hapless brothers and sisters across the Line of Control. Also undertake some immediate and short term similar measures. Flexing own military muscles including nuclear capabilities through some demonstrative actions should not be precluded. In our desire to be a good boy and get credit of a civilised approach (that has given us nothing but inaction) we cannot give up our legitimate national interests.

Thus only a total and comprehensive approach encompassing all elements of power potential, applied in unison, that supports the resistance movement in Kashmir will create the environment that will bring a change in Modi’s mood and bring India on negotiating table. And talk they will, Inshallah. Provided we understand the limitations of diplomacy and the shortcomings of international institutions due to reasons generally well known. And apply all elements of National Power wisely but comprehensively to achieve our goals. The present state of inactivity or shall we say only partial activity on the pretext of economic weakness will not postpone the inevitable plans hatched by our enemies. Make up your mind, wait for the events to unfold and get late in responses or read the stars correctly and upset enemy designs.

The writer has held various commands during his military career. For his services he has been conferred the award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz (M). He has also served as the Defence Secretary. He is currently an Advisor at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research (CSCR).

What are those areas in the political, legal and military fields that we need to pursue concurrently?