The Kashmir Conflict: International Diplomacy’s Blind Spot

Zakir Hussain Magsi

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For years, Kashmiri people have endured daily challenges to their lives, homes, well-being and in the recent years the threat of a full-scale war hangs over them, adding to their existing hardships. In all the discussions about conflict and war, we must not forget a simple fact that Indian Occupied Kashmir is where this battle is unfolding. The Kashmir issue and the suffering of its people should not be ignored, as the current conflict between India and Pakistan is deeply intertwined with this disputed region.

In global media discussions about the historical tensions between India and Pakistan, there is a tendency to overlook the significant suffering endured by Kashmiri people. Indian occupied Kashmir stands as one of the world’s most heavily militarized regions, countering India’s misleading narrative of terrorism. This oversight obscures the immense human and social costs associated with the Kashmir conflict, where civilian lives are deeply affected by the military presence and ongoing tensions between the two nations.

The misleading claims of development following the abrogation of Article 370 and the false mantra of normalcy, Kashmiris still face political imprisonments and are occasionally used as human shields. Meanwhile, the United Nations resolution calling for a self-determination referendum in Indian occupied Kashmir remains unimplemented, denying the Kashmiri people their right to determine their future.

The international community has indeed been involved in various ways, but it is also true that it has not been resolved, and there are reasons for this perceived neglect. Let’s delve into more detail about the factors contributing to the perception of neglected international diplomacy surrounding the Kashmir conflict:

The Kashmir region is strategically located, bordered by three nuclear-armed countries: India, Pakistan, and China. This makes it one of the most sensitive and dangerous flashpoints in the world. The involvement of these nuclear powers creates a high-stakes environment where any mishandling of the situation could potentially lead to a larger conflict with global implications. This complexity can discourage international actors from getting directly involved. India and Pakistan have consistently insisted that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through bilateral negotiations. They consider third-party involvement as an infringement on their sovereignty and often resist international mediation. This stance has limited the options available to the international community in terms of direct intervention or mediation. The international community, including the United Nations, has made attempts to mediate and facilitate dialogue between India and Pakistan. However, there has been a lack of consensus among major powers on how to approach the issue.

Some countries, like the United States, have closer ties with India and tend to be more cautious about pushing for a resolution that Pakistan might favor. This lack of consensus can hinder concerted international efforts. The international community often allocates resources and diplomatic efforts to conflicts that have a more direct impact on global stability or their national interests. For example, conflicts in the Middle East or Europe often receive more attention due to their potential to disrupt global affairs or energy supplies. The relatively lower intensity of the Kashmir conflict compared to some other global crises can result in less international focus. Countries may prioritize economic or strategic relationships with India or Pakistan over involvement in the Kashmir dispute. For instance, India’s growing economy and market have made it an attractive partner for many nations, influencing their stance on the issue. Economic interests can sometimes take precedence over diplomatic efforts to resolve long-standing conflicts. Human rights abuses have been reported on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir, including allegations of extrajudicial killings, torture, and restrictions on freedom of movement and expression.

While human rights violations are a concern, addressing them can be challenging, as countries might be reluctant to confront India or Pakistan, particularly if they have strategic interests tied to these nations. The conflict has been in a protracted stalemate, with intermittent flare-ups. The fear of unintended escalation can discourage international intervention. Finding a resolution that satisfies both India and Pakistan without causing further conflict is a complex and delicate process. Despite these challenges, some diplomatic efforts have been made over the years. For example, various countries and international organizations have encouraged dialogue between India and Pakistan and called for peaceful solutions. However, the fundamental issues underlying the Kashmir conflict, including competing territorial claims, political aspirations, and historical grievances, remain deeply entrenched. Ultimately, addressing the Kashmir conflict will require sustained, patient, and skillful diplomacy, as well as a willingness from all parties involved to find a mutually acceptable resolution.

The Writer is pursuing BS International Relations at National Defence University and is Intern at Kashmir Institue of International Relations 

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