PM warns Pak-India escalating tensions over Kashmir could go ‘terribly wrong’

NEW YORK:(Ch Mudassar Iqbal) Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday urged the United Nations and the international community to push India into lifting the siege on Kashmir under which some eight million people are languishing for the past 50 days, warning that the situation could get worse if urgent efforts were not made to resolve the crisis.

Addressing a press conference here at the UN Headquarters, he said the United Nations had special responsibility on Kashmir as the Security Council had adopted 11 resolutions pledging the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people.

He also said he believed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had now boxed himself into a blind alley by his August 5 decision to revoke the special status of held Kashmir, with no way out, and a whole population turned against India.

He said any conflict between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India would not be confined to the South Asian region. “The whole world will be affected,” he said, adding he had raised the issue with a number of world leaders, including President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is here at the head of Pakistan delegation to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly that Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi described as “Mission Kashmir”.

Asked whether there was any possibility of him meeting his Indian counterpart while they are in New York, he said, “For a start, they have to lift the curfew, that’s the beginning.

Even the Congress party in India has commented that poor people have been shut inside for 50 days. No one knows what’s happening with the political prisoners…”

“What’s the point of talking now unless they lift the curfew and restore Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.”

The prime minister expressed the fear that when the curfew was eventually lifted, with 900,000 soldiers in the disputed state, there would be a massacre, and whatever happened, they (Indians) would blame Pakistan.

“India today is governed by a racist, Hindu supremacist group, RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), responsible for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi, (and) two thousand Muslims were butchered in Gujarat when Modi was the chief minister.

“For the past six years, India has been governed by an extremist group, which believes in ethnic cleansing, exterminating Muslims,” he said.

Imran Khan said he had approached India both before and after the Indian election, but when they did not respond, he realized they had an agenda.

India, he said, blamed Pakistan for terrorism. “What possible gains will Pakistan (have) by sending extremists there with 900,000 troops except that Pakistan will be blamed and atrocities against Kashmiris will be committed.”

“What could be worse than this state-sponsored terrorism,” he said referring to the unleashing of state power on Kashmiris.

“I hope before I leave, the international community and the UN would have realized their responsibility,” the prime minister said, adding, “I would urge world leaders to go beyond this obsession with big markets and trade.”

“If ever the Security Council moves, now is the time to do so,” he said. “Eight million people have been locked in for 50 days. What could be worse? This is as bad as it gets.”

The prime minister said he would not have come out of Pakistan because of the economic situation and other domestic problems his government was facing. He had come to New York to warn the international community of the dangerous situation prevailing between two nuclear-armed countries.

“When you have what you have in India right now – a racist ideology which believes in the supremacy of Hindu race – how to you reason with them?
“I hope there’s no conflict,” he added.

Responding to questions, the prime minister said, “I know why Mr Modi is not pushed. People look at India as a market of 1.2 billion people; sadly, materials come before people.”

“My simple message to all those looking for a big market: This can go terribly wrong. I told the Indians once a conflict starts between two nuclear-armed countries, it go beyond my and your prime minister’s hands.”