Imran Khan warns of 'direct military confrontation' between 'nuclear-armed' India, Pakistan over Kashmir
NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the international community to deal with the grave crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir sparked off by New Delhi's "illegal" annexation of the disputed state, warning of a possible military confrontation between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan amid escalating tensions in the region.
"If the world does nothing to stop the Indian assault on Kashmir and its people, there will be consequences for the whole world as two nuclear-armed states get ever closer to a direct military confrontation," he wrote in an opinion piece in the The New York Times.
Titled "The world can’t ignore Kashmir. We are all in danger," was published on Friday, coinciding with Pakistan government's call to observe Kashmir Hour across the country to show solidarity with Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir, whose rights were stripped by the Indian government earlier this month.
The prime minister denounced India's abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution, which had accorded a special status to Jammu & Kashmir. "The move is illegal under the Constitution of India, but more importantly, it is a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan."
Occupied Kashmir is under lockdown since August 5. "Thousands of Kashmiris have been arrested and thrown into prisons across India. A blood bath is feared in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted. Already, Kashmiris coming out in defiance of the curfew are being shot and killed," Prime Minister Imran Khan said.
At the outset, Imran Khan enumerated the steps he had taken after his election as prime minister a year ago seeking dialogue for normalization of India-Pakistan relations, but said his efforts for peace were "rebuffed" by New Delhi. He also narrated the events leading to the current situation, which has taken a dangerous turn.
"With the nuclear shadow hovering over South Asia," he said, "We realize that Pakistan and India have to move out of a zero-sum mind-set to begin dialogue on Kashmir, various strategic matters and trade".
"On Kashmir, the dialogue must include all stakeholders, especially the Kashmiris. We have already prepared multiple options that can be worked on while honouring the right to self-determination the Kashmiris were promised by the Security Council resolutions and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru," the prime minister wrote.
"Through dialogue and negotiations, the stakeholders can arrive at a viable solution to end the decades of suffering of the Kashmiri people and move toward a stable and just peace in the region. But dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks."
PM Khan also made a reference to Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's latest statement on India's no-first-use nuclear policy and said — "India’s defence minister has issued a not-so-veiled nuclear threat to Pakistan by saying that the future of India’s “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons will “depend on circumstances.”
"It is imperative that the international community think beyond trade and business advantages. World War II happened because of appeasement at Munich. A similar threat looms over the world again, but this time under the nuclear shadow," the Pakistani leader said.
Asserting that 'lasting and just peace in South Asia' has been his priority ever since he came to power, he said the response to his efforts from India was negative.
"And we found out that while I was making peace overtures, India had been lobbying to get Pakistan placed on the 'blacklist' at the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, which could lead to severe economic sanctions and push us toward bankruptcy," PM Khan said.
"Evidently Mr Modi had mistaken our desire for peace in a nuclear neighborhood as appeasement. We were not simply up against a hostile government. We were up against a 'New India,' which is governed by leaders and a party that are the products of the Hindu supremacist mother ship, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the R.S.S.
"The Indian prime minister and several ministers of his government continue to be members of the R.S.S., whose founding fathers expressed their admiration for Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Mr Modi has written with great love and reverence about M.S. Golwalkar, the second supreme leader of the R.S.S., and has referred to Mr. Golwakar as 'Pujiniya Shri Guruji (Guru Worthy of Worship).'
I had hoped that being elected prime minister might lead Mr Modi to cast aside his old ways as the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, when he gained global notoriety for the 2002 pogrom against local Muslims on his watch and was denied a visa to travel to the United States under its International Religious Freedom Act — a list of visa denials that included associates of Slobodan Milosevic.
Noting that Modi’s first term as prime minister had been marked by lynching of Muslims, Christians and Dalits by extremist Hindu mobs, PM Khan said, "In Indian-occupied Kashmir, we have witnessed increased state violence against defiant Kashmiris. Pellet-firing shotguns were introduced and aimed at the eyes of young Kashmiri protesters, blinding hundreds."