Peace diplomacy a priority in Kashmir issue

Nearly four million Kashmiris have been under lockdown with movement restrictions and a near communications blackout since August 4, 2019, as the Indian Government recently revoked special status accorded to Indian-administered Kashmir in its Constitution. In the lead-up to the move, India sent tens of thousands of additional troops � joining 500,000 already there - to the disputed region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and the Internet, arrested hundreds of Kashmiri political leaders, and turned parts of the main city of Srinagar into a fortress of roadblocks and barbed wire.

The latest developments have escalated the tension between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan formally asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) recently to hold an emergency session to address the situation.

As a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Indonesia, however, believes that dialogue and communication between Pakistan and India would be more desirable to resolve the Kashmir problem.

From Indonesia's point of view, peace and security diplomacy must be prioritized in dealing with the Kashmir issue. Indonesia is also of the view that the solution to the problem should be sought bilaterally by Pakistan and India. A bilateral solution is a key to this problem.

Teuku Faizasyah, spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, said in a statement on August 15, 2019 that it would be better for Pakistan and India to hold a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir problem, because a communication deadlock has led to information scarcity, giving rise to various interpretations that have only led to an escalation of the problem.

In the UN Security Council, Indonesia emphasized the importance of the two countries exercising restraint and resolving the problem bilaterally, Febrian Alphyanto Ruddyard, Director General of Multilateral Cooperation of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, said.

Indonesia has closely monitored the flaring of tensions between India and Pakistan in Kashmir following the Indian Government's move that has triggered resistance from the Kashmiris.

The Government of Indonesia expressed the hope that the conflicting parties would placate tensions, engage in negotiations, and adopt diplomatic means to solve the problem.

"This is because escalating tensions will certainly not benefit anyone. Indonesia expresses hope that communication and diplomacy would be prioritized," Faizasyah said in a statement issued on August 7, 2019.

The Indian presidential decree revokes Article 370 of India's Constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including its right to its own Constitution and decision-making process for all matters except defense, communications, and foreign affairs.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir has expressed "deep concern" over the recent developments, AlJazeera reported.

In a statement at an emergency meeting held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen, reaffirmed the OIC's "support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their just struggle to achieve their legitimate rights, in particular, the right to self-determination."

Meanwhile, Agung Nurwijoyo, political observer of South Asian affairs, in the University of Indonesia, has urged the Indonesian Government to take a proactive role in restoring peace in Kashmir.

Indonesia has a moral responsibility to be actively involved because the country has historical, socio-political and economic ties with both India and Pakistan, Nurwijoyo, said.

Indonesia, India and Pakistan are among the initiators of the Asia-Africa Conference in 1955 and founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) established in 1961. Besides, Indonesia's position is neutral so it could be entrusted to encourage India and Pakistan to communicate and go back to the negotiation table.

Another call for Indonesia to play a more active role was voiced by Amin Sudarsono, President Director of SEAHUM (Southeast Asia Humanitarian Committee).

Indonesia should become a mediator of a dialog between India and Pakistan to prevent more civilians from becoming victims of humanitarian conflict, he noted.

"SEAHUM wants to convey two things. First, the Indonesian Government has a big chance to promote peace diplomacy in Kashmir. Second, we, as a humanitarian organization, will always be on standby to watch second by second the situation there. So far, we have not heard information about human movement after the communication line has been cut off, and 10 thousand troops have been deployed in Kashmir," he said.

On Aug 14, 2019, Minister Retno Marsudi had separate meetings with the ambassadors of India and Pakistan to Indonesia, to listen to their governments' perspectives regarding the Kashmir problem, and to encourage the two neighboring countries, which was initially one nation, to restore communication.

"Back from Banyuwangi, I separately received the Ambassador of Pakistan, Abdul Salik Khan, as well as the Charge d'affaires of India, Prakash Gupta in Jakarta," Marsudi tweeted.

Source: ANTARA News

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