The leadership of Nawaz Sharif has been hailed, and political parties praised for their show of unity after the recently concluded All Parties Conference (APC).
The Prime Minister called upon all major parties to come under one roof and discuss Kashmir and the escalation with India, and all the parties set aside their personal differences and answered that call; and there was a widespread appreciation for both those facts.
Important as that action was, the issue discussed, the conclusions reached and the statements made deserve equal – if not greater – attention; scrutiny must follow.
Along with the measures undertaken for greater visibility of the Kashmir conflict, the APC has released a policy statement that presents its stance on the larger issue.
While it a through restatement of the Pakistani case, it lacks a roadmap for de-escalation and, eventually perhaps, peace.
Regardless of this, the statement serves its primary function well.
In uncompromising language, it presents its stance: it supports the “Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination, as guaranteed to them in the UNSC resolutions” which call for a plebiscite, it details the scale of the violence committed by the Indian state against the Kashmiri people from 1947 to the upsurge in the past 87 days, and denounces India’s point blank refusal to talk about this essentially bilateral issue.
Furthermore the political parties did well to affirm that any violation of the Indus Water Treaty will be considered “an act of aggression” and will be dealt with accordingly – the red line needed to be definitively elucidated, and now it has been.
Finally a show of empathy and solidarity with the people of Pakistan, the people of Kashmir, and the armed forces was a noble sentiment that was much needed.
Some other salient points need to be mentioned too.
The APC denounced terrorism, highlighted the massive cost Pakistan has paid in fighting this menace, and vowed to continue doing so.
While another affirmation is always welcome, the sluggish pace of the National Action Plan (NAP) – which was wheeled out once more to make a mention – begs to differ with the commitment to it.
The government needs to reprioritise its spending and political focus to truly follow through with this.
Perhaps missing from the statement was a way forward for the region.
The Pakistani stance has been presented clearly, but we have done that before only to wind up on the brink of war time and again.
A vision of a peace-full South-Asia which cooperates and exchanges skills, labour and goods may have elicited derisive laughter from cynics and even realists, but a standard, and a destination needs to be set before work on it – no matter how arduous – can be begun.