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Pakistan’s Fruitless Kashmir Plant

Pakistan is once again trying all means to internationalize the Kashmir issue.  The violations at the Line of Control were one of the ways Pakistan has recently used to draw the world’s attention to the region. Pakistan’s ambassador to India meeting Kashmir separatist leaders was another. On Sunday, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging him to intervene in “defusing tensions” between Pakistan and India and to end “violations at the Line of Control”. He also called for holding of a plebiscite in the state. Sharif is expected to raise the Kashmir issue also in the UN General Assembly which he is scheduled to address on Wednesday. There is hardly anything new about Pakistan raising the Kashmir issue at the UN. Last year too, Sharif raised the issue at the UN General Assembly. Pakistan’s stance for the past six decades has been that the “fundamental right to self-determination” was denied to Kashmiri people. The Indian armed forces had unleashed the “worst form of torture and oppression,” but the “valiant people of the disputed state had neither abandoned hope nor given up their legitimate struggle for the self-determination.”

The latest campaign by Pakistani political leadership to whip up the demand for “self-determination” of Kashmiris at a global platform is nothing but playing to the domestic gallery. Sharif has changed his course to remain politically significant at home. Sharif’s game is to milk the support of the pro-Kashmir and anti-India constituency with his strong espousal of Kashmir at the global forum. Sharif knows very well he is not going to gain the support of the international community for an intervention in Kashmir. Pakistan has failed to get the UN or the international community or global superpower US to intervene in the Kashmir issue.  India has always maintained that Kashmir was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and cannot be resolved by the international community. Yet Sharif is going to repeat what he said last time:  “Our support and advocacy of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is our historic commitment and a duty, as a party to the Kashmir dispute.”

However, it is likely that Pakistan’s latest campaign on Kashmir issue too will not bear any fruit. The US and European powers today have their hands full with strategic and economic issues. The US is engaged in a war with the Islamic State which it has resolved to wipe out. The US military engagement continues in Afghanistan. As for the United Nations, its involvement started in 1948, when Pakistan made its first attempt to seize Kashmir from India, and virtually ended after the Indo-Pak war of 1965. With the signing of the Simla Agreement by India and Pakistan in 1972, the UN role ended. The Simla Agreement, which was reached between the two countries after their third war in 1971, secured the commitment of the two nations to solve the Kashmir dispute in a bilateral framework.

Where does the role of UN or international community come into the picture when both the countries have agreed to resolve the issue bilaterally? The Simla Agreement has to be the basis for any negotiations between the two countries.  But even before the Agreement, the international community had treated it as a bilateral issue. Between 1948 and 1971, the UN Security Council had passed 23 resolutions on the resolution of the Kashmir conflict, but they were all recommendatory in nature and could not be enforced without the consent of both the countries. In effect, the UN finally left the resolution of the conflict to India and Pakistan. The position of UN and international community has not changed. So Pakistan’s campaign is going to end up in smoke.

Sustainable Tourism

Goa is expecting 6 to 7 million tourists, both domestic and foreign. The number of people visiting the state in the next six months is going to be four to five times more than the state’s population. The income generation from such a large number benefits a significant section of Goans engaged in various trades and occupations. However, it also puts tremendous pressure on the state’s infrastructure and resources. There is no comprehensive planning, involving all departments, to create infrastructure and systems that can manage the huge tourist inflow during the season. That affects the quality of everything we offer to the visitors, making us wonder what impressions they carry home about Goa. The state has basked far too long in the sun of crowd tourism. It should now set itself two goals: One, to create properties, facilities, amenities and environment for quality tourism, and two, to create a sustainable model for sharing of resources between the visitors and residents during the season.

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