Anti-Kashmir attempt via sugar diplomacy – Senator A Rehman Malik

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Sugar is sweet but scientifically and medically it is harmful and termed ‘white poison’, and we found it as another way of hitting the cause of Kashmir. India and Pakistan are under pressure from the US to establish better relations and in January 2021, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the US policy on human rights should be the same as it is in the US, in countries around the world, including Kashmir. He said he would look forward to playing his role to expand Pak-US relations. He made it clear that the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee will play its role wherever it finds violation of human rights adding that human rights, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, must be held and must be kept in Kashmir.

On February 26, 2021, the US welcomed the announcement by India and Pakistan that they would observe the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and State Department spokesperson Ned Price stated, the “US welcomes the joint statement between India and Pakistan that the two countries have agreed to maintain strict observance of a ceasefire along the Line of Control starting on February 25. We encourage continued efforts to improve communication between the two sides and reduce tensions and violence along the Line of Control.” There had been no compromise on the cause of Kashmir.

He further stated “we (US) had called on parties to reduce tensions along the Line of Control by returning to that 2003 ceasefire agreement. When it comes to the scene of the US’ role, we continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern”.

Both the Chairman US House Committee on Foreign Affairs and State Department Spokesperson mentioned Kashmir in their statements. India tried to play a masterstroke and offered sugar and cotton to Pakistan at cheap rates. Let us recall we saw a kind of artificial price-hike of sugar to justify the import of sugar from India. On March 31, Finance Minister Hammad Azhar surprisingly announced the import 0.5 million tonnes of white sugar and cotton from India. Soon after the announcement, the government faced stiff opposition over the restoration of sugar and cotton imports from India and I was the first to announce a complete boycott on the use of any sugar product as a protest against the decision and also appealed to the country to boycott sugar for two months which was well responded and endorsed. I was glad that the government reversed the decision to import sugar from India due to public pressure but why the government did not realise before taking this decision that it will hurt the Kashmir cause.

It was my initiative and public pressure which forced the Government to go in reverse gear. The public knows all and the government must decide either to help the oppressed Kashmiris or under American pressure create good relations with India at the cost of Kashmir which is not acceptable to the nation.

According to Pakistan’s de facto NSA, Imran Khan as Minister-in-charge of commerce approved the import of sugar and cotton yarn from India in one meeting while on the second day he rejected it as Prime Minister. As a matter of fact, the decision was publicly opposed and a public appeal to boycott sugar was announced as the move had hurt the Kashmir cause. I would like to advise Mr NSA that composite dialogue is the way forward with Kashmir on top of the agenda rather than succumbing to any international pressure to damage the long-outstanding issue. I still appreciate the PM that at least he answered the voice of the people and reversed the decision which he had made as Minister-in-Charge as it had hurt the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and Kashmir. The government has to be honest in the public statements as it is answerable to the state and people of Pakistan. First of all, which authority approved the import of sugar and as per media reports and the NSA that Imran Khan as Minister-in-charge of commerce approved it. And, the very next day in the cabinet meeting, sugar imports from India was on the agenda. It was only me who pointed out first that it would hurt the cause of Kashmir and only then, the PM and cabinet made a fast reverse gear hiding the earlier approval. Why did the government not state honestly that it has been reversed on public pressure? The government should have given credit where it was due.

The NSA has also said that the Economic Coordination Committee makes decisions on merit, not just for optics. Let me ask how it could reopen trade with India without first getting the special status of Kashmir restored. Everybody knows the procedure to move a summary for the approval of the Prime Minister and how a summary could be moved when there were already restrictions over ‘trade with India’. The nation recalls that it was firmly decided that Pakistan will not deal in any trade with India till it doesn’t restore the special status of Kashmir. Pakistan had expelled Indian High Commissioner over India’s unilateral and illegal move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the same was decided in the joint session of Parliament. The joint session of Parliament was informed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that the National Security Committee (NSC) outlined immediate actions the government will be taking which included the downgradation of diplomatic relations and the suspension of bilateral trade with India and to take up the matter with the United Nations and its Security Council. The NSC’s decision of suspension of bilateral trade with India is part of parliament proceedings of a joint session. Our Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has stated with clarity that dialogue with India is subject to the resolution of Kashmir. The question arises; was Pakistan’s de facto NSA unaware of this decision of the National Security Committee (NSC) and Parliament? Let us highlight the other item; that approval is given subject to the availability of commodities and question rises how did Pakistan’s de facto NSA obtain the availability and what channels were used with India to obtain the confirmation of the availability of sugar and under what banking arrangements? Now having all this background of the sentiments of people for India after scrapping the special status of Kashmir by PM Modi and still oppressed Kashmiris are under the longest army curfew ordeal. Wasn’t this directive and Pakistan concerns about Kashmir noticed and isn’t he the advisor of National Security of Pakistan and if so, how he can be that much ignorant to get the approval of the import of sugar from India?

Pakistan’s de facto NSA owes an explanation to the nation as to why he acted so fast and approved this attention as he is dealing with commerce which is a clash of interest. He must have become very capable after working in a USA think tank. It is easy to conclude that Pakistan’s NSA wanted to create an impression before the west that Indo-Pak relations are getting normal even without the Kashmir issue on the table. The People of Pakistan have the right to know why he attempted to hurt the cause of Kashmir at the cost of vested interests. The NSA must know that he is the National Security Advisor of Pakistan and no more an employee of a USA think tank.

I hope he will apologise from the people of Pakistan otherwise the Bars of Pakistan will take him to court on this serious issue and I hope the National Assembly and the Senate privilege committee will move this breach of privilege for violating the related resolution of the joint parliament on the matter. I have nothing against him but I have immense love for my country and hence as a Pakistani, I have the right to ask him for this action which was against the national interest of Pakistan. This move of reopening trade with India is worse than what has been reported by EU DisinfoLab as India had been damaging the cause of Kashmir by its malicious propaganda. It is unfortunate that we previously played on India’s pitch through a sugar-coated anti-Kashmir policy and now India tried sugar diplomacy, further trying to kill the issue of Kashmir. It was thought by the diplomatic schemers to dilute the voice of Kashmir and perhaps bury it under tonnes of sugar well explained in a verse of my poem titled ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir Vs Indian Sugar’ that “You may trade sugar but not Kashmir”.

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The government must know that the people of Pakistan will not agree on trading with India without the implementation of the UN Resolution on Kashmir. I had stated earlier that ‘PM Modi; You can threaten me, can have attacks on my character, or can have physical attacks on me but nothing can silence my voice for the oppressed people of Kashmir and I will expose these attempts soon and I will continue to expose his brutalities against Kashmiris and Indian Muslims carried out through RSS militants.’

In the end, I demand a complete judicial inquiry into this sugar import scandal which is “Anti-Kashmir sugar diplomacy”; more to come in my next article.