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‘Kashmir Hour’ Was Nothing More Than A Cosmetic Exercise

Cdr Najeeb Anjum (retd) writes that ‘superficial’ measures like Kashmir Hour won’t benefit the Kashmir cause. Instead, the government should make diplomatic efforts to apprise the international community of Pakistan’s stance.

The people of Pakistan might not agree with Prime Minister Imran Khan on every policy, but the recent announcement of marking an hour for Kashmir has struck a chord with every strata of society. The call to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people truly manifested at every nook and corner of the country.

People gladly and voluntarily left work, as otherwise, we are not accustomed to work. Academic institutions culturally observe a half-day on Friday that ends at 12:00 PM. However, most schools’ administrations sent messages to parents requesting them to pick their kids at 1100hrs; hence an already short day was further curtailed. As is customary, people who belong to the adjoining areas of the major cities of Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, left their offices for the journey home, with the aim to come back to work on Monday morning.

Roads were blocked early in the morning in preparation for the solidarity march. More than 100 trains ground to a halt for more than one minute, and as per common sense, stopping trains midway for a minute requires a much longer pit stop. So what if the already delayed train schedule got pushed a little further?

One wishes such actions could bring Kashmir one step closer to freedom but that is not possible. For such superficial measures, especially within Pakistan, will not help the cause. 24 precious days have been completely wasted. The government by now should have huddled all the foreign ambassadors in Islamabad, conveyed their view point on recent developments in Kashmir and urged them to take this up with their respective governments.

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Akin to this, the government should have made all their ambassadors abroad visit the foreign offices in their respective countries to express concerns over the issue.

To create ripples in the international media, the prime minister, along with personalities admired by expat Pakistanis should have addressed the Pakistani community followed by a protest. The Pakistani foreign missions need to be drawn out of their deep slumber.

This reminds me of late Zulfiqar Bhutto’s time as the premier, when he travelled far and wide, visiting world capitals and meeting the heads of states. He even called the Pakistani ambassadors back home prior to recognising Bangladesh. Unimpressive press conferences with equally insubstantial rhetoric by Ms. Firdous Awan or Mr. Fawad Chaudhry will not reap any substantial result.

The prime minister is well advised to leave the comforts of his office and take up tangible actions. The Foreign Office in their archives must have a treasure trove of the minutes of conferences by our previous leaders and should prepare briefs and old speeches in world forums for PM Imran Khan. He is also advised to refrain from his casual public speaking style and with the help of seasoned speech writers should concentrate on his speech in the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly Session.

Digital space is now the final frontier. While we can rile as much on social media, our opinions will always carry a bias in the eyes of international viewers, but the same viewpoint coming from social media influencers will make many heads roll and create a world of difference.

An effort should be made to meet such individuals through our foreign missions and convince them to speak our version.

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When we look back at our prime minister’s first entry into public life, we encounter him at a time when his paths are filled with confusion and disappointment. The PM has failed to infuse a sense of purpose and meaning into people’s lives.

“If there is not the war,” Theodore Roosevelt mused, “You don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get the great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in times of peace, no one would have known his name now.”

PM Imran Khan seems to be temperamentally unfit to respond to the intensifying crisis over national issues. We might not fight this out with India on a conventional battlefield but we sure are losing a public relations battle.

The follies of Modi have provided Imran Khan with a chance to immortalize himself in history, but time and a good team are not on his side.

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