Saturday, June 15, 2024

A conference that might never take place

PUNJABNEWSLINE | June 08, 2021 06:55 PM

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan intends to call a conference of foreign ministers of Islamic countries in Islamabad to discuss the so-called Kashmir issue.

This is a breach of the spirit and apparent willingness of peaceful relations between India and Pakistan that was initiated by the Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa when on February 25 a cease fire on the Line of Control was agreed during the meeting of director generals of Military Operations of both countries.

With Shah's announcement it seems that the Imran Khan government of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf and the military establishment are no more on the ‘same page', a claim made by Imran Khan during his address to the nation on July 27, a day after he had won the controversial election of 2018.

Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution Imran Khan has been making suggesting that peace dialogue between India and Pakistan shall not resume unless the status of Jammu Kashmir is reversed.

Khan has been flying across the Middle East to garner support against India and force the Muslim states to issue condemnation of the Modi government's decision to free Jammu Kashmir from the shackles of an Article that was instrumental in blocking direct national or international investment in the Vale of Kashmir.

The Articles were also discriminatory against the women of the valley since it did not give automatic civil and property inheritance rights to them if the married someone from outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A also abolished the existence of a state in a state situation which had been a hurdle in India's attempts to contain jihadi terrorism. Imran Khan's attempts to acquire support against India back fired in the most humiliating way. On August 24, 2019, less than two weeks after the Articles 370 and 35-Awere, United Arab Emirates awarded ‘Order of Zayed', her highest civilian award, to Prime minister Narendra Modi.

Requests to the chairman of the OIC to hold an emergency session on Jammu Kashmir were turned down and Pakistan's threat to convene a conference of brotherly Islamic countries was taken as an attempt to split the OIC. Hence, Saudi Arabia cancelled the US $3 billion credit line offered to Imran Khan in 2018 and not only that, the Royal Kingdom demanded that Pakistan repay US $1 billion of oil credit money that Pakistan already owed her.

Pakistan had to beg China to lend her the money in order to repay Saudi Arabia. The list of further humiliations that Pakistan has faced since are far too many to be included in this short piece, but you get the idea.

Shah intends to call the aforesaid meeting of foreign ministers of the Islamic states in March 2022. However, it remains to be seen if this adventure succeeds in gaining the approval of two most important entities when it comes to taking decisions of such nature by Pakistan: Saudi Arabia and Pakistani military establishment; both of which do not seem to be on good terms with the pauper government of Imran Khan.

Pakistan has nothing to offer to the Middle East in return for such a favour especially when it involves the risk of losing great business relations with a booming $3 trillion Indian economy. Besides, India is the one of the largest exporter of Basmati rice and meat to the Middle East.

According to information available on the Indian Embassy website in Riyadh, during the Fiscal Year ‘2019-20, bilateral trade {between India and Saudi Arabia} was valued at $33.09 billion. During this period, India's imports from Saudi Arabia reached $26.84 billion'.

And according to information available on Trading Economics, a resource that provides economic information for 196 countries and more than 20 million economic indicators and much more, revealed that ‘Saudi Arabia's exports to Pakistan was US$ 745.52 million during 2019'.

I leave it to you to do your own research on search engines to examine the extent of monetary benefit the Middle East earns by trading with India. No sane mind would risk to lose the foreign exchange and hard cash that the Middle East earns by way of exports to India just for the sake of pleasing a conniving manoeuvre by the state of Pakistan that survives on borrowed money and perhaps borrowed time.

Hence, in my opinion, it could prove be yet another of Pakistan's desired conferences that might never take place.

(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK. The views expressed are personal)

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