With Pakistan Army expected to take the back seat, Imran Khan may go to occupied Kashmir to rake up anti-India sentiment in his assembly address to mark one year of India nullifying Article 370
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who counts the campaign against India over Jammu and Kashmir as his government’s key achievement has roped in the Inter Services Intelligence, or ISI, in its 18-point plan to commemorate the Aug 5 anniversary of India scrapping Article 370 that extended special status to the valley, people familiar with the development said. The ISI is Pakistan’s notorious spy agency accused of nurturing terror groups, mostly directed at India and Afghanistan.
The 18-point programme includes a visit by Imran Khan to occupied Kashmir where he is tentatively scheduled to address the assembly, a speech that is going to be beamed live. Before he reaches Muzaffarabad, Khan’s government intends a field trip for foreign journalists to the occupied territory. Like in the past, the terror training camps funded by the ISI would be off-limits for the journalists.
India had tabled the law in Rajya Sabha to strip the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under the constitution and turn the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – on August 5. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha the same day, the Lok Sabha the next and received the presidential assent on 9 August.
The introduction of the law was preceded by a security and communication lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir and detention of its top political leaders. Most of them have since then been released; PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti is among the exceptions.
Pakistan, which like much of the country, was taken by surprise by New Delhi’s move had soon launched an international campaign against the nullification of Article 370. Imran Khan was the face of this pitch on and off Twitter. Khan even focused his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, or UNGA, last September on Kashmir, warned a “blood bath” in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted, prophesied a genocide on the streets of the valley and frequently referred to Pak’s nuke weapons to blackmail the world to intervene.
Only two other countries spoke of Kashmir at the UNGA: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey and Malaysia, then led by Mahathir Mohamad.
China also did issue two statements on the scrapping of Article 370. One asked India and Pakistan to work together on the Kashmir issue. But its primary concern was over the change of Ladakh’s status to a federally-administered territory. “China is always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction,” China’s foreign ministry had said.
India had then ticked off Beijing, underlining that changing the status of an Indian territory was an “internal matter”.
For Imran Khan’s elaborate plan for August 5, Islamabad has reached out to Kuala Lumpur, Ankara and Beijing to issue statements to commemorate the first anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir’s new status. Or at least tweet.
Turkey’s Erdoğan is expected to oblige but New Delhi is watching how Malaysia plays. Kuala Lumpur has a new prime minister in Muhyiddin Yassin who took over as prime minister on 1 March. A statement from China, a government official said, didn’t matter given how it had attempted to expand its territory that led to the standoff and the bloody Galwan clash in east Ladakh, and the first casualties on both sides along the Line of Actual Control in 40 years.
The foreign ministry has been told to work closely with spy agency ISI on its diplomatic outreach to Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member countries and international human rights groups, organising commemorative events – even rallies – at missions abroad and drafting a fresh memorandum to be handed over to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan headquartered in Islamabad.
Counter terror officials in New Delhi told Hindustan Times that the campaign had been drawn up by the military for Imran Khan, right from documentaries, pamphlets and newspaper supplements that would be put out to the tweets that would be put out. But Imran Khan will front the campaign.
Quite like the ISI had created the The Resistance Front after August 5, a terror group without the religious label that could be used by Pakistan’s propaganda machine to claim that terror was homebred in Kashmir due to Article 370.