For decades, the issue of Kashmir has not only dominated Pakistan’s foreign policy but has also been ingrained in the very fabric of its national identity. The significance of Kashmir to Pakistan cannot be overstated, it is considered the country’s artery, symbolizing not only territorial integrity but also the aspirations of the Kashmiri people for self-determination.

Since its inception, Pakistan’s foreign policy towards India has remained largely unchanged, with Kashmir serving as the focal point of contention. Despite occasional attempts to thaw relations, particularly during periods of dictatorial rule, the unresolved status of Kashmir has hindered any significant breakthrough in bilateral ties.

The tumultuous history between the two nations, marked by three wars, underscores the gravity of the Kashmir issue.

The illegal annexation of Kashmir by India, coupled with its brutal suppression of the Kashmiri freedom struggle, has only exacerbated tensions in the region. India’s portrayal of the legitimate struggle for self-determination as “terrorism” reflects its refusal to acknowledge the root cause of the conflict, forced occupation. Pakistan has consistently advocated for a principled settlement, as encapsulated in Musharraf’s four-point proposal, which has garnered support from intellectuals on both sides of the border.

Despite international outcry over human rights abuses in Kashmir, the global community’s reluctance to condemn India’s actions represents a failure of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The lack of meaningful intervention has emboldened India to perpetuate its atrocities with impunity, further exacerbating the suffering of Kashmiris.

While successive governments in Pakistan have paid lip service to the Kashmir issue, it was Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who courageously championed the cause, bringing much-needed attention to the plight of Kashmiris.

In contrast, the Imran Khan administration’s reluctance to confront India head-on underscored a broader trend of diplomatic timidity, which prioritized appeasement over principled action.

The failure of past military conflicts and diplomatic initiatives, such as the Tashkent Agreement and Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore, highlights the complexity of the Kashmir conundrum. Pakistan’s willingness to sacrifice diplomatic capital and endure international isolation underscores its unwavering commitment to the Kashmir cause. Despite the absence of tangible progress, Kashmir remains the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, a testament to the enduring bond between the two nations.

India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir, in violation of UN resolutions and bilateral agreements, have only reinforced its status as an occupying power. The recent annexation of Occupied Kashmir served as a stark reminder of India’s disregard for international law and Kashmiri aspirations. Pakistan’s unequivocal stance on Kashmir as its “artery” sends a clear message to India and the international community, any attempt to alter the status quo in Kashmir will be met with staunch resistance.

For the people of Kashmir, the struggle for self-determination has been a long and arduous journey. Since the partition, Kashmiris have endured political turmoil, human rights abuses, and military occupation, as successive Indian governments sought to suppress their aspirations for freedom. Pakistan has consistently supported the Kashmiri cause, both diplomatically and morally, advocating for their right to self-determination as enshrined in UN resolutions.

However, India’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Kashmiri struggle has perpetuated the cycle of violence and instability in the region.

Despite numerous attempts at diplomatic resolution, the Kashmir issue remains a thorn in the side of Indo-Pakistani relations. The failure of past initiatives, such as the Tashkent Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, underscores the deep-seated mistrust between the two nations. India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir, including the revocation of Article 370 and the subsequent annexation of the region, have further complicated efforts to find a peaceful solution. Pakistan’s condemnation of these actions, while garnering international sympathy, has failed to produce tangible results, highlighting the limitations of its diplomatic influence. The international community’s reluctance to intervene effectively in the Kashmir dispute reflects a broader trend of realpolitik, where state interests often take precedence over moral principles. Despite widespread condemnation of India’s human rights abuses in Kashmir, concrete action has been lacking, leaving Kashmiris to bear the brunt of Indian oppression.

As Pakistan grapples with the challenges posed by the Kashmir issue, a renewed sense of urgency is required to address the root causes of the conflict. While military confrontation remains a distinct possibility, the long-term solution lies in dialogue and diplomacy. Pakistan must continue to engage with the international community, mobilizing support for the Kashmiri cause and exerting pressure on India to adhere to international law and respect human rights. Moreover, efforts should be made to foster dialogue and confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan, laying the groundwork for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

At the same time, Pakistan must remain steadfast in its support for the Kashmiri people, providing them with the necessary moral, diplomatic, and humanitarian assistance. By amplifying their voices on the global stage, Pakistan can ensure that the plight of Kashmiris is not forgotten and that their aspirations for freedom are realized.

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