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Kashmir a non-issue for Pakistan's Political Parties

Kashmir seems to be a non-issue for major political parties in Pakistan for this national elections, with their manifestoes making only scant references on the dispute Kashmir has often influenced the politics of the sub-continent.

A review of election manifestoes of the three major political parties — PMNL, contender PTI and outlier PPP — shows that the ‘K’ word finds minimal mention. The only references are to ‘finding a solution within the parameters of the United Nation Security Council resolutions’.

The hotly-contested election is expected to see a run off between Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreeke-Insaf (PTI), the latter considered to be more aligned to the Army that has strong views on Kashmir. However, in its official manifesto released on Monday, the PTI makes only two references to it, towards the end of the 58-page booklet.

Identifying ‘resolution of the Kashmir dispute’ at number three of its four priorities in the ‘external dimension’, Imran Khan’s party calls for lasting peace in the region and says it will work on a “blueprint towards resolving the Kashmir issue within the parameters of UNSC resolutions”.

The PMNL agenda, which starts with a message from ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has ample references to continued partnership and closer engagement with China and promises to preserve and protect Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Kashmir not star vote-catcher for Pakistan political parties

Kashmir has been bunched with religion driven conflicts in Asia. The manifesto expresses solidarity with the “oppressed people of Kashmir, Palestine and the Rohingyas”. Kashmir does get a mention in the foreign relations promises of the incumbent, but at number nine of the ten-point agenda.

The reference is to “resolve the Kashmir issue” by providing political and diplomatic support “in accordance with UN resolutions”. At the top of the foreign relations agenda is to fortify ties with China further and a surprise number two is to develop relations with Russia, an old Indian strategic partner For the outlier PPP, normalising relations with India is a priority and it bats for sustained and uninterrupted dialogue with New Delhi.

There is scant other reference to Kashmir, other than a line that says it is against giving special status to countries in the Security Council that ‘violate’ UN resolutions “such as the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.”

The poll promises in Pakistan primarily focus on economic growth, jobs, an increased GDP and welfare measures for the people. PTI does vow to make Pakistan a welfare state if voted to power, while PMLN reminds citizens that it carried out anti-terror operations to bring internal peace.

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