Tomorrow, Kashmir Can Be Jerusalem – Mehwish Ashraf

On December 6, 2017, a decision was taken in isolation by Donald Trump in recognising a disputed territory, Jerusalem, as capital of Israel which resulted in exposing the weaknesses and lack of application of International law.

While, the U.S has breached international law and no sanctions were applied on it, there was no global watchdog in place to make Trump accountable. Therefore, this point and the ongoing unstable relations between Pakistan and Trump’s administration are worrying for Pakistan because it also has a disputed territory with India; Kashmir.

In order to solve the Kashmir issue, Pakistan has some expectations from the International Law guardians and watchdogs. Simply, the intensified instability between both the states and the case of unilateral recognition of Jerusalem promotes the threat of unilateral acceptance of Kashmir. This could imply that Trump can one day simply recognise Kashmir as part of India, which could further escalate regional tensions in South Asia.

Trump’s Anti-Pakistan statements make such concerns more likely. On 1st January 2018, trump tweeted about Pakistan saying that; “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The next day Trump elaborated his opinion on 2nd January, 2018, and compared Palestine with Pakistan, when he said; “It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.”

With such a volatile style of presidency, one can surely expect Trump to treat Kashmir similarly to Palestine. But, why would Trump do that? There are many reasons to that.

First, a major similarity in both the situations is that dilemma lies between two contrasting ideological states, i.e, Muslim vs Non-Muslim. Kashmir has two major religious groups, one is the Muslim majority and other is the Hindu.

On the other hand, land of Jerusalem also has two major groups, the Jews and the Muslims. In both ongoing disputes, people want to join the state according to their religious beliefs. And when it comes to Pakistan besides being a Muslim state, Trump’s antipathy towards Pakistan gives more possibilities that Trump would not want Kashmir to become Pakistan’s part, and he can make the same settlement again.

Secondly, USA enjoys strong ties with both Israel and India. On basis of strong bilateral relations with Israel, the U.S. president declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, stating that the declaration was in USA’s interest. Similarly, USA’s growing ties with India also mean that a similar declaration in case of Kashmir, citing US interests, could also be made.

Thirdly, USA is always interested in playing the role of a Global Watchdog, intervening in conflict-prone regions, which also helps its weapons and arms trade. It would be of no surprise if in case of an escalation in South Asia, USA intervenes, in alliance with India, under the preamble of ‘establishing peace in the region’.

Since George W. Bush became the United States President in 2001, India has periodically received assistance from Washington in developing its power and regional influence. Many believe that the US pursued this strategy to overcome China in the Asian Pacific region. So, it feeds India to bring balance of power in the region.

Accordingly, the US also played an important role in International engagements of India. In 2016, the US urged the members of the Nuclear Supplier Group to support India’s membership, which allows India to trade nuclear technology.

Furthest, according to Office of the United States Trade Representative, in 2016, India’s goods trade with U.S. was $67.7 billion and ranked 9th in trading partners. Other than this, two major agreements between both states include the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement (LEMOA). A nuclear deal was also signed between both states referred to as the “123 Agreement” or simply Indo-U.S. nuclear deal.

Based on these interests, the US could recognise Kashmir as India’s territory, which will of course strengthen India politically and economically. Such a scenario is a threat for Pakistan, when the US president has himself bracketed Pakistan with Palestine. Hence, to avoid such tensions, Pakistan should try to develop good diplomatic and political relations either with the U.S. or with neighbouring states and major powers in order to consolidate its case on a global level.

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