Pakistan can hold talks with India only when Kashmir’s special status is restored, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the French newspaper Le Figaro on Tuesday. He said that currently there is “no relationship” between the two countries and both are in a stalemate.
“We can build a relationship with India but it has to start from them going back to that step they took on August 5, 2019,” Khan said. “They have to restore the status of Kashmir because that’s a violation of international law.”
The Indian government had abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to the former state, on August 5, 2019. The erstwhile state was split into the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Khan said that negotiating with India at this point would lead to “betrayal of the people of Kashmir”, who had been given a “guarantee by the international community at the United Nations Security Council to decide their destiny through a plebiscite”.
The prime minister added that Pakistan was dealing with an “irrational government” in India whose ideologies he alleged are based on hatred towards Muslims and minorities.
Khan also claimed that the Pulwama attack of February 14, 2019, was carried out by “a young Kashmiri boy”, but India has blamed Pakistan for it. The National Investigation Agency has named Pakistani terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and 18 others in the chargesheet.
As many as 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed in the attack. In retaliation, India on February 26, 2019, carried out air strikes on a camp of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan’s Balakot area.
A day after the cross-border strike, India and Pakistan engaged in aerial skirmishes. On February 27, the Pakistani military claimed it had shot down two Indian Air Force jets – one had crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the other fell in Jammu and Kashmir.
India has maintained that Pakistan shot down one MiG-21 aircraft, while the Indian Air Force shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet during the dogfight. Pakistan had also managed to capture IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Khan during Tuesday’s interview with Le Figaro said that the Pulwama attack had led to hostilities between the two nations and that Varthaman was returned to India as Pakistan “did not want any escalation”.