Pakistan’s denial of visa to Jayant Khobargade because of his ‘seniority’ and nixing his appointment as India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad is no more than a moronic act. It shows how frustrated Pakistan has become over continuous neglect by the world of its relentless anti-India campaign, especially over the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and his garrulous foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, like to tell the world—if it cares to listen–that they are in a position to meddle in the appointment of Indian diplomats in their land. It is in tune with their policy of downgrading diplomatic relations with India—an expression of displeasure over changes in the status of Jammu and Kashmir. It heightens Pakistan’s annoyance that nobody in the world gives it a damn.
Guiding their anti-India campaign is the powerful military, which finds itself abused of corruption at high level and the Opposition parties openly ganging up against it. A general, who prided himself with anti-India tweets when he was military’s Boswell (head of the publicity wing), has been accused of helping his family amass assets worth billions of dollars across three continents. To save his face, the general had offered to resign from his latest perch of Special Advisor to Imran Khan but he asked him not to bother. Well, Imran cannot afford to incur the wrath of the GHQ Shura, if he wants to complete his own term.
Now, the Opposition has united to oppose both the Imran regime and the military. Speaking from London virtually during a conference of Opposition parties, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has described the Army as a ‘state above the state’. Hitherto, Pakistanis viewed the Army as a ‘state within a state’ and as a permanent establishment of the country. Sharif himself was at the receiving end of the Army not once but twice though, like many other Pakistani leaders, he owed his political baptism to the Generals.
The views of the Pakistani ruling as well as Opposition parties on Kashmir are equally hawkish. But Imran Khan’s or military’s Kashmir-related anti-India narrative has not prevented PML-N, PPP, and other Opposition parties from joining hands to shake his military propped throne.
It goes completely over the head of the foreign ministry mandarins in Islamabad as well the military brass that their juvenile antics will not make India bow to Pakistan’s wish. The initiative for downgrading diplomatic relations with India came from Pakistan in August last year after the Modi government ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, dividing it in to two union territories. If Pakistan wants bilateral ties to be lowered further, India is unlikely to be bothered.
Moreover, India is not rushing to work for restoration of the level of diplomatic representation in the capitals of the two countries. Well, it was no more than misplaced arrogance that made Islamabad to presume that lowering the level of diplomatic heads would force India to pander to its craving for Kashmir.
Pakistan will have to learn to operate with a smaller staff in its Delhi chancery which will impact some of its nefarious anti-India activities, especially the Hurriyat centric needling. Pakistan’s diplomatic mission has been a hotbed of anti-India activities but with staff strength reduced the scope has been restricted. India has no problem living with the window to Pakistan shut. Let Pakistan stew in its own steam.
It is a sign of its daydreaming that Pakistan looks for pleasure in many odd ways—like its representative being able to address a Russia hosted conference with a ‘new’ map that shows several Indian territories as part of Pakistan in the backdrop. Boneheaded Pakistanis think it marks alienation of India from Moscow even as they strive hard to win Russian affection at the expense of India.
One of the biggest causes of heart burning for Pakistan was the refusal of the Islamic world (barring Turkey and Malaysia) to join in condemning Modi government after Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status in India was abrogated. No matter how much it shouts about it and irrespective of its own subterfuge in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, there is no chance of India bring about a change in Kashmir that Pakistan wants.
Imran Khan and Qureshi even played what they perceived as their trump card to wake up the Islamic world on Kashmir. The motor mouth threatened to convene a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to discuss Kashmir. And angered the cash-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which dominates OIC and which regularly throws crumbs at perennially bankrupt Islamabad.
The Saudis did not hide their annoyance. Media reports say Riyadh has asked Pakistan to return a loan amount of one billion dollars. Last October, the Royals had openly snubbed the playboy-cricketer-turned politician, Prime Minister Imran Khan. Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, withdrew the offer of his private jet for Khan who was returning home from New York after attending UNGA. And he had to board a commercial flight to Islamabad.
After the deep embarrassment created by the threat to convene a parallel OIC meeting, the Pakistani army chief rushed to Riyadh to plead forgiveness of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, better known by his initials MBS, who refused to see him.
Almost no Islamic nation shares Pakistan’s deep hatred for India. Turkey is its closest friend at the moment but in the divided Islamic world, Turkey has more enemies than friends. Pakistan’s short-lived honeymoon with Malaysia has ended with the departure of Mahathir Mohammed. Except for China there is no strong shoulder on which Pakistan can lean or cry.
Pakistan seems to be drawing vicarious satisfaction from the standoff between China, its ‘iron brother’ and India. If the Pakistanis are to be believed, China has already overrun Ladakh. They imagine that India has been exposed as a weak military power. But, unfortunately, not weak enough to allow another Kargil like misadventure by Pakistan.
Hoping to exploit the situation on India’s China border, Pakistan has stepped up ceasefire violations in Kashmir and activated its terror network in the new union territory of India. But Pakistan has to thank itself for enabling India to learn to live with its mischief. Much as it rejoices over India’s discomfort vis-à-vis China, Pakistan finds it frustrating that it is not strong enough for yet another military engagement with India, not after defeats in all the five previous wars with India.