Weeks before Nawaz Sharif embarked on his New York trip to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), his advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, attended a little gathering in Karachi and revealed that India’s role in promoting terrorism in Pakistan was not a secret anymore. “Not only is India interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters, it is also supporting terrorism in our country,” he said, adding that documentary evidence of Indian involvement had already been prepared and that copies of the dossier would be shared with Indian authorities.
Aziz announced that the dossier would be handed over to the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, had spent days in Islamabad before the General Assembly, discussing issues that the country wanted to highlight at this worldly gathering, including the details of the dossier.
By the time the prime minister arrived in New York he had already missed out on major events, like the Sustainable Development Summit and Malala Yousafzai’s meritorious address at the United Nation’s General Assembly session. The press and diplomatic corps kept an ear to the ground until Nawaz Sharif reconfirmed in a press conference that dossiers on Indian interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs would be handed over to Ban Ki Moon. He further said that if he had had a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi he would have handed the dossiers over to him as well.
The PM said that Pakistan was keen to have peaceful neighbourly relations but India had not reciprocated with the same sentiments. “It is time that India should act by coming forward and desist from violating the ceasefire on LoC and Working Boundary,” he said.
The day after the prime minister concluded his trip, not just one but three dossiers were submitted to the UN chief under the header: Indian interference and support to terrorism. These three dossiers were sectioned: India’s involvement in Balochistan, its interference in Karachi, and its support of terrorism via the TTP in FATA.
Pakistan had launched its much-acknowledged military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, against terrorists last year, but it was the deadliest attack on Army Public School in Peshawar by the TTP that turned the public opinion in its absolute favour. Many in Pakistan, closer to the establishment, believed and blamed that India’s intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), had a hand behind this.
Similarly, documents purported to be the property of the London police surfaced on social media in June, suggesting Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had New Delhi’s support, and that its leader Altaf Hussain, received funding from India.
But it is Balochistan that has been one of the most contentious issues for a long time now. The unrest in the province has been exacerbated by various groups that have been labelled as Indian proxies. Quite recently, according to press reports, India itself confirmed that Baloch separatist leader and head of Balochistan Liberation Army Hyrbyair Marri was in New Delhi. Though, Marri, rejecting these reports, in an interview to BBC, said that the Baloch people were not in favour of seeking help from India to gain freedom. The news was enough to provide fodder for more unconfirmed theories.
Pakistan decided to take up the issue more seriously and bring in to the UN.
Sartaj Aziz in New York repeated to the media that “three dossiers containing proof of Indian involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan have been handed over to the United Nations.” He confirmed that Pakistan’s permanent representative to UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi had shared three dossiers containing evidences pertaining to Indian interference in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi with the UN Secretary General in a meeting. He maintained India has been violating the ceasefire agreement with Pakistan at the Line of Control and that foreign ministers of 15 countries have been apprised of the Indian aggression in Pakistan.
The text of these dossiers have not been shared with the media because, according to a high ranking Pakistani official, they contain documentary proof based on intelligence which could not be compromised. Pakistan’s tight-lipped UN Mission only said, “Pakistan is seriously concerned at Indian actions, as they have serious security implications for the region and beyond.”
Any further details of what action could be taken by the UN or its chief are not known since the UN rules do not specify any procedure in this regard. A senior Pakistan Mission official, requesting not to be named, told TNS that in the absence of bilateral meetings with its arch rival, Pakistan decided to bring the issue to the international stage.
However, Pakistan did not approach the members of the General Assembly, Security Council or various other terrorism issue related committees. Following up on the action is at the discretion of the Secretary General. While Pakistani officials insisted that this move was “unprecedented”, most of South Asian and UN experts outrightly called it useless.
Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, comments: “At the end of the day, I’m not sure it’s a strategy that will work. The UN and the International community have a very large plate at the moment, and there simply isn’t any room for Kashmir — as critical as that issue is for international stability and so much more.”
Kugelman maintains, “The UN’s Moon politely accepted that dossier, but it will soon get buried by so many other matters.”
It’s pertinent to mention that besides submitting three dossiers with Moon, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Lodhi had written two letters to the UN chief as well, saying that India was avoiding bilateral engagement and unilaterally building a wall along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup dismissed these letters and commented, “Has anyone taken cognizance of these letters? Has the UN said anything on them? If no action is taken by the UN, that itself shows that nobody has taken cognizance of it.”
These issues, Pakistani officials said, were discussed by the prime minister in a meeting with Moon. The PM reportedly raised the Kashmir plebiscite issue with the Secretary-General and wanted the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan strengthened. Moon’s spokesman, in a statement, said that during their meeting “the Secretary General stressed the necessity for Pakistan and India to continue their peaceful dialogue.”
Meanwhile, prior to the PM’s visit to White House later this month, Sartaj Aziz had once again hinted that the dossiers shared with the UN Secretary General would also be shared with other friendly countries. If this happens, the White House response might not be any different from that of the UNSG. The US has already been emphasising that a strong relationship between Pakistan and India is critical to achieving peace and stability in South Asia — but it also stresses that both countries need to work this out mutually.