The region of Kashmir holds immense geopolitical and strategic importance in South Asia. Contested by two nuclear powers, the region continues to be viewed as the most potent threat to regional peace and stability.
Kashmir has a large Muslim population, an overwhelming majority of which has supported the proposition of joining Pakistan. Despite this, India continues to forcibly maintain military presence in the region. The Indian occupation during the past 60 years has given rise to numerous independence movements and civil agitation groups as well. Unrest has been a recurring theme in the state and while attempts through the diplomatic channels have been made to reach a peaceful resolution, they have not borne any fruit yet.
The state of Kashmir holds vital importance for Pakistan. It is the starting point for a number of rivers that flow through Pakistan, and therefore the control of this region is imperative to Pakistan’s well-being. Recent attempts by Indian government to use this to its advantage and make Pakistan pay only further add weight to the Pakistan government’s argument regarding its right on Kashmir.
Over the passage of time, Pakistan’s actions have weakened its argument over Kashmir. Many a government have given concessions to their counterparts in New Delhi in the hopes of boosting trade or to protect their own vested interests. Not just this, but there has also been immense pressure from foreign powers upon Pakistan to concede its stance. Many governments have quivered under such pressure and failed to protect the national interest.
To reach a definitive and positive solution, the civil government needs to rethink its policy. It must act solely in the greater interest of the nation. Attempting to assert its power over national institutions will only weaken the attempts and benefit the enemies of Pakistan. Foreign policy strategy should be a joint effort that should be a cumulative effort of the different national institutions. Input from each pillar of state is important to comprehensively safeguard the national interest. The civil government must also vow to withstand all foreign pressure and not be intimidated by mere threats. There is also a crucial need for the civil leadership to develop consensus on its foreign policy stance. Political point-scoring can harm the best of efforts and prevent all efforts from succeeding. Finally, the military should be taken onboard and consulted with regards to the Kashmir policy.