By Amara Malik 

Since the inception of Pakistan, the disputed territory of Kashmir has been the bone of contention between Pakistan and India. Both the states have fought almost three wars due to this issue, but the end result has always been a stalemate. The issue couldn’t get resolved yet, neither through wars nor through diplomacy. The people of Kashmir have long fought for the right to self-determination, whether it takes the form of independence or annexation to Pakistan.

Since 1948, when it adopted a resolution asking for a plebiscite to ascertain the will of the Kashmiri people, the United Nations has been involved in efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute. 

This resolution has never been put into effect, though, because India and Pakistan couldn’t agree on the terms and procedures for the vote. In order to monitor the two nations’ ceasefire line, the U.N. also assembled a military scrutiny group, not authorized to take action or function as a mediator.

A number of nations and organizations made several attempts to promote diplomatic relations and talks between India and Pakistan about Kashmir, but none of these has been particularly successful. Among the noteworthy initiatives are: the Simla Agreement of 1972, stating that India and Pakistan should negotiate a peaceful, bilateral solution to the Kashmir conflict, the Lahore Declaration of 1999 reiterated the Simla Agreement and stated the willingness of both nations to address all disputes, including Kashmir, via discussion, the Composite Dialogue Process of 2004–2008 served as a platform for extensive and ongoing discussion of all remaining problems, including Kashmir, between India and Pakistan.

Adding to this, a covert plan for a four-point solution to the Kashmir issue, based on softer boundaries, demilitarization, self-governance, and collaborative administration, purportedly featured the U.S-led backchannel diplomacy of 2006–2007. Following a meeting on the fringes of a regional conference, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India released the Istanbul Declaration of 2009, in which they declared their determination to begin talks on all matters, including Kashmir.

Moreover, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan agreed to restart talks on all problems, including Kashmir, during the Thimphu Meeting in 2011, which took place on the fringes of a regional summit. Also, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan met at the Heart of Asia Conference in 2015, which ended with a commitment to begin talks on all problems, including Kashmir.

But all the diplomatic initiatives went in vain as they were hampered by various factors. Both being rivals since their formation, India and Pakistan do not trust each other at all, so they avoid composite dialogues. Since their independence, there have been frequent escalations of violence and tensions along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. Moreover, the influence of domestic politics and public opinion in both countries on their respective positions and policies on Kashmir are also a hurdle to the talks, plus there exists a disparity in viewpoints and interests on Kashmir throughout the international world.

In August 2019, when India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under its constitution, and bifurcated it into two union territories, the most recent set back on diplomacy regarding the Kashmir issue was observed. Many Kashmiris viewed this action as a violation of their rights and ambitions, while Pakistan saw it as a unilateral takeover of its land. To condemn this act, Pakistan demanded international assistance to overturn India's decision, which it strongly disapproved of. 

However, most nations resisted taking a side or meddling in what they viewed as a domestic Indian affair. The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) was approached by China and Pakistan to discuss the matter, but they failed in getting any response. There hasn’t been any formal communication or diplomacy between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue since that time. Due to a rise in incidences of ceasefire breaches along the LoC, charges of cross-border terrorism, diplomatic expulsions, trade suspensions, airspace restrictions, and the Covid-19 epidemic, the two nations’ ties have further worsened. Currently, it is unlikely that Kashmir-related diplomatic or negotiation efforts will resume.

Since Pakistan and India have irreconcilable disputes and interests regarding the disputed area, the Kashmir Issue is a complicated historical issue that has eluded diplomatic resolution for decades. Due to disagreements between the parties involved (India, Pakistan, and Kashmiris), regarding nature as well as the severity of the issue, the absence of a trustworthy mediator or facilitator, the influence of outside forces, and the persistence of hostility and violence, diplomacy has been rendered ineffective and fruitless. 

Therefore, unless there is a fundamental change in the parties’ viewpoints and strategies, which is not anticipated anytime soon, diplomacy will continue to fail in Kashmir. Granting Jammu and Kashmir, the status of an independent state would also not benefit either country since it would exacerbate the region’s volatility and unpredictability. 

Contrarily, war would only result in suffering and devastation on all sides. In order to strengthen their position and make their demands heard to the world, particularly to India, I believe that Pakistan should back the Kashmiris in their fight for self-determination by giving them resources and support. Pakistan, however, is struggling economically and cannot afford to accomplish this without outside assistance. We must thus raise funds on a worldwide scale and ensure that there is no corruption in this matter. In this approach, there is a chance for a fair and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir Issue.

READ NEXT: What Foreign Residents in Taiwan Think About VP Lai-Ching Te’s Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more story updates in your news feed, please be sure to follow our Facebook.