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The Ministry of Defense Thursday ruled out any possibility of a nuclear war with Pakistan's arch-rival India because of prevailing tension due to latter's annexation of Jammu and Kashmir. The Defense Ministry during a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Defense apprised the committee of the situation on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary.
Sources in the committee said that Defense Ministry was of the view that India is not in a position to attack Pakistan and in case of any misadventure, the Armed Forces are ready to respond. Following the briefing, the committee unanimously adopted a resolution demanding the Indian Prime Minister to lift the curfew in Indian-occupied Kashmir while appealing the international community to condemn the gross human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
The committee met in the chair of Senator Walid Iqbal in which it urged the international community to take notice of innocent lives as women and children are dying without medicines and food. The resolution also demanded that India should move towards a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions. The resolution was proposed by Senator Abdul Rehman Malik and passed by the committee with some amendments.
Some committee members expressed displeasure over the absence of the defense minister from the meeting in view of the complexity of the situation as well as LoC violations in the aftermath of alteration in the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The chairman committee undertook to convey the sentiments of the committee members to the minister and also stated that he will ensure the minister's presence in the next meeting so that the matters related to defense, especially Indian defense minister's recent statement regarding 'no-first-use' treaty regarding nuclear weapons, can be discussed.
The chairman committee talked at length about the highhandedness of the Modi government in causing a humanitarian crisis by complete communications blackout, blockade of provision of basic amenities, and unending curfew. Senator Rehman Malik remarked that Narendra Modi is the first head of government in the world who holds a basic membership of a terrorist organization. He underscored the need for working with Kashmiri organizations and urged them to lodge a a case against Modi as a war criminal.
Zahoor Ahmed, Additional Secretary, the Foreign Office, told the committee that Pakistan's issue is not with the change in IOK's status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution but with India's intentions. He said that according to the Simla Agreement, India cannot do a material change unilaterally and this may lead to a demographical change in Jammu and Kashmir.
The humanitarian angle is also a significant part of the crisis ongoing for 38 days now. A complete lockdown and communications outage is causing severe problems and the situation might do more damage once the curfew is lifted and Kashmiris come out to protest. He also briefed the committee about foreign minister's visit to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. He said that usually at this stage the Council's proceedings are not attended by foreign ministers but he decided to go and register Pakistan's version.
A joint statement signed by 50 members of the UN, expressing concerns over human right violations being committed in IOK, was also issued in Geneva. The members of the committee asked for a copy of the joint statement to be shared with the committee. The committee was told that on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly speech, the Prime Minister will hold meetings with 7 or 8 heads of state. Senator Rehman Malik suggested that the Prime Minister should make a demand for implementation on the UN resolutions a part of his speech.
The committee members underscored the need for fully activating the Kashmir Cell at the Foreign Office and making use of media narrative in this battle of ideas, appreciating those brotherly countries which have come out to support Pakistan's view on the Kashmir crisis openly. The committee was told that Modi had miscalculated the reaction of Kashmiris, Pakistan, as well as the international community by committing this blunder.
Senator Mushahid Hussain observed that Pakistan should formally condemn Netanyahu's statement on replicating the Modi model in Palestine. Matters involving firing across the LoC and resultant civilian casualties, the border tension with Afghanistan and a point of public importance raised by Senator Usman Kakar were discussed in-camera.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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