Imran Khan has tried to hardsell scrapping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir as a Muslim issue, but there are no takers.
Pakistan was formed in 1947 on the basis of two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two nations which could not live together. India rejected this theory and Jammu and Kashmir is a proof of that rejection. Successive governments of Pakistan including the current one led by Imran Khan have laid their claim on Jammu and Kashmir to prove that their founding principle was right.
Pakistan’s attempt to give a Muslim spin to the Kashmir issue has gained sudden acceleration after the Narendra Modi government brought a new Presidential Order on August 5 revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. Imran Khan, the Pakistani prime minister, called the move by the Indian government an attempt to make Muslims a second class citizen in the country.
“What the Indian leadership has done in Kashmir yesterday, is part of the BJP ideology, and Golwalkar, the party’s founding father, of ensuring that Muslims of India would remain as second-class citizens,” Imran Khan said in Pakistan’s National Assembly on August 6. MS Golwalkar was RSS chief succeeding its founder KB Hedgewar.
Call for Muslim brotherhood
Imran Khan launched a massive diplomatic outreach to the Islamic world championing Kashmir’s Muslim identity. He repeatedly invoked Islam to justify his threat of another war with India over Kashmir issue.
“Aggressive war is against Islam, but when Muslims have fought for the sake of freedom, they have defeated the biggest armies, said Imran Khan fanning the war frenzy.
At another occasion, Imran Khan said, “The whole world, including the entire Muslim population in the world, is looking towards the United Nations. He will be raising the Kashmir issue and abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir in the UN General Assembly next month.ADVERTISEMENT
But Imran Khan’s repeated call that all Muslims should stand with secessionists in Kashmir has not found favour in the Islamic world. The biggest grouping of Islamic countries, the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) snubbed Pakistan over the scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 even though, it raised concerns over alleged human-rights violations in the state.
Powerful Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also not bought Pakistan’s argument. Imran Khan has had telephonic conversations with the Saudi leadership a couple of times explaining the Pakistani viewpoint on Kashmir but has failed to elicit any favourable comment from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
UAE has openly backed India calling the abrogation of special status an internal matter of India. To top it up, UAE recently conferred its highest civilian honour on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, much to the chagrin of the Imran Khan government.
Even Taliban, known for their hardline interpretation of Islam, have rebuked Pakistan after Imran Khan tried to draw a parallel between Afghanistan and Kashmir over scrapping of special status. This is significant in the view that Taliban have been nurtured by Pakistan and its army.
The only Muslim country to have supported Pakistan over Article 370 is Turkey, whose constitution declares it a secular country. Clearly, the support from Turkey over Article 370 come not from the Muslim bogey raised by Imran Khan but for other reasons.
The China angle
Imran Khan admitted this failure of his government’s diplomatic move to hardsell Kashmir issue as a Muslim agenda on Wednesday saying, “I read in the newspapers that people are disappointed that Muslim countries are not siding with Kashmir. I want to tell you not to be disappointed; if some countries are not raising this issue it is because of their economic interests.
So, Pakistan is currently banking on China solely to carry forward its propaganda over Kashmir. And, China does not recognise the importance of religion in policy matters. China, which occupied Aksai Chin in Ladakh in 1962 war, considers itself a party in the Kashmir issue. This explains its opposition to the Modi government’s move.
Raising the Muslim bogey was a compulsion for Imran Khan for his domestic audience. It suits both his politically weak government and the Pakistan Army, the real power centre in the country. But with Muslim bogey getting derailed, Imran Khan is now telling his home audience to have a hope for the future — to keep believing in two-nation theory.