The Kingdom’s offers of mediation in South Asia


The Kingdom’s offers of mediation in South Asia

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The Arabian peninsula and the South Asian sub-continent are located in each other’s vicinity. Muscat is located at a distance of 223 nautical miles from the port city of Gwadar and a flight from Mumbai to Salala takes less than an hour. All GCC countries have centuries’ old history of commercial links with coastal areas of the sub-continent. India and Pakistan have a large presence of experts and workers in the Gulf Region, with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosting the largest number. It is, therefore, understandable that unresolved conflicts in the sub-continent would be worrisome to friends like Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, the UAE played a role in establishing a cease-fire in Kashmir and Saudi Arabia welcomed the move. The unilateral abrogation of Kashmir’s autonomy by India in August 2019, in violation of the Simla Agreement of 1972 and its commitments at the UN, had resulted in a daily exchange of fire along the Line of Control, the de-facto border between the two countries, in Kashmir. 

Kashmir has been recognized as the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoint. It is no wonder that world leaders including President Trump, President Putin and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have, in recent years, offered their good offices to resolve the apparently intractable issue. It is a conflict that can be resolved by granting millions of Kashmiris their human right to self- determination. India had undertaken to grant that right in 1948 by holding a UN supervised plebiscite. Its current position is entirely different from its earlier international undertakings.

It is no wonder that Kashmir is restless today and has become the most militarized part of the world. A dangerous escalation between India and Pakistan in February last year was a direct result of unilateral Indian moves referred to above. Saudi Arabia has, for years, enjoyed the highest popularity rating in Pakistan. Relations between the leaderships have been excellent since the inception of Pakistan. Saudi Arabia also enjoys friendly relations with India, its important trading partner. Therefore, its offer of “good offices” to mediate between two nuclear nations beset with a number of unresolved issues, makes ample sense.

Pakistan was quick to welcome this offer from its brotherly country. 

Being an important member of the Kashmir Contact Group of the OIC, Saudi Arabia has been fully aware of all latest developments in the disputed valley. 

Javed Hafeez

“We welcome Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisel bin Farhan’s offer for mediation,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ambassador Asim Iftikhar. 

Pakistan was sanguine that as the Kingdom had always empathized with the just demands of the Kashmiri people, its mediation would help them. Being an important member of the Kashmir Contact Group of the OIC, Saudi Arabia has been fully aware of all latest developments in the disputed valley. 

This is not the first time that the Kingdom has offered its good offices for achieving peace and stability in South Asia. Unfortunately, India has spurned most positive efforts for achieving peace and harmony in this important region.

India’s rejection of all positive mediation proposals regarding Kashmir is quite understandable. Through repeatedly broken promises and unlawful steps, it has lost the trust of the Kashmiri people. It knows full well that it cannot win in a UN supervised referendum. But its revocation of Article 35-A of its own constitution has opened the disputed territory to Indian nationals for purchase of property in Kashmir and to settle there for business or jobs. These nefarious moves clearly aim at changing the demography of Kashmir.

History has shown that the will of people to live in independence and in accordance with their own cultural norms cannot be suppressed by force. With a rich cultural heritage and experience of international affairs, Saudi Arabia fully appreciates the aspirations of Kashmiris, with the majority being Muslims, for a just solution of their problem. That the offer of “good offices” by the Kingdom to resolve a long standing conflict should be ignored by one party, is only regrettable.

Humanity today is beset by other grave problems like climate change and resultant natural disasters. It is about time political issues are resolved in a fair and just manner so that all nations can focus on non-political urgent issues that pose a global threat.

One wishes that India should not proceed against the demands of our times and listen to the logic of the Saudi offer. By shedding its intransigence on Kashmir, India can gain more than it would lose.

By offering its good offices to resolve pending issues, the Kingdom has yet again won the hearts of Pakistanis and Kashmiris.

Javed Hafeez is a former Pakistani diplomat with much experience of the Middle East. He writes weekly columns in Pakistani and Gulf newspapers and appears regularly on satellite TV channels as a defense and political analyst.
Twitter: @JavedHafiz8

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