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We have options on Kashmir

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Attendees wave Pakistan's national flag and Kashmir's flag, to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, at the Mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. (Photo: REUTERS)

There is a general lament in Pakistan that there isn’t much we can do to respond to India’s re-occupation of Kashmir. Officials, experts and pundits all are shaking their heads in resigned pessimism and heard muttering, “We are too weak, too isolated and too cornered to respond in any meaningful way so better to wait till we are stronger and then do something on Kashmir.”

There are many others who are spinning another defeatist narrative: “Is Pakistan more important or Kashmir? Let’s just focus on ourselves and let Kashmiris handle their own fate.”

Oh really…

The State of Pakistan may be floundering in its response — what else would you call the silliness of halting life for half an hour — but it is for lack of imagination and preparation, not for a lack of options. In fact, Narendra Modi’s reckless re-annexation of an already annexed territory may have given us an opportunity that we did not have previously. So here are (at least) five short term, medium-term and long term things Pakistan can and should do to in response to India’s outrageous, illegal and provocative step:

1. Construct the right narrative: Our official position is linked to UN Security Council resolutions requiring a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir and this is fine. However now the narrative needs to be refreshed and refurbished in light of recent events. This new narrative though can only be constructed if we recognise that the existing one has run its course — case in point: the lacklustre response from even our friends when we needed them most to take a favourable position on Kashmir. After seven decades of wars and diplomacy, many of our talking points have become clichés. These clichés need to be replaced with a fresh story that........

© The Express Tribune