September 2016 News

Sharif's Kashmir Project Hits Diplomatic Dead End

22 September 2016
Times of India
Indrani Bagchi

New Delhi: Nawaz Sharif 's Kashmir project has suffered a diplomatic check at the UN general assembly, with Pakistan failing to gather international support against India. In fact, Pakistan's campaign against India's actions in the Kashmir valley over the past few months did have some effect internationally. India was forced to defend itself, specially as the unrest in the valley wore on and people continued to get killed. The Uri attack reversed all of that for Pakistan, which saw international support draining away as India's narrative of Pakistan-exported terror gained currency. But it would be a mistake to believe Sharif overreached. Much has been made of a report that Sharif had to call and take directions from the other Sharif, army chief Raheel Sharif, before his UN speech. The Kashmir project is very close to Nawaz Sharif 's heart and he has been more proactive on this than on many other projects. But the changed equations between his government and the army has meant that he could be following a script written by the Pakistani army. It is often forgotten that Nawaz Sharif was overthrown by the first army chief he appointed in 1993, Abdul Waheed Kakar, a relatively weak general who stepped into the shoes of Asif Nawaz Janjua when he died. Later, Pervez Musharraf overthrew him as well. So, when tensions flared up between Nawaz and Raheel, especially over graft issues, and there was genuine danger of being overthrown again, the PM threw in the towel and accepted being the junior partner in what is essentially a very unequal relationship. Raheel now calls the shots in areas controlled by the army - like India, Afghanistan, the US and nuclear policies - and other areas as well. There will be no coup, Pakistani analysts in New Delhi said, but Nawaz Sharif is firmly under the army's control. Given his corruption troubles, the PM may have little choice. The Uri attack, experts said, was exactly what the jihadi infrastructure would be enthused about. It puts paid to any chance of Pakistan and India normalising ties any time soon, but by keeping tensions on the India front high, it is a further control point for Raheel, who is due to retire in November. A new army chief will have to be appointed by Nawaz Sharif, who will doubtless be the other Sharif 's choice. Meanwhile, the India relationship will have to be on hold for some time.