Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday told The New York Times in an interview that he would no longer attempt to deliberate with the Indian government on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and raised concerns about an imminent military escalation between the two nuclear powers. He cautioned “anything can happen” as the two nations continue to spar over the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in Indian Constitution.
“And then you are looking at two nuclear-armed countries eyeball to eyeball...,” Khan told the newspaper. “My worry is that this can escalate and for two nuclear-armed countries, it should be alarming for the world what we are facing now.” On Sunday, the Pakistan prime minister had expressed concerns about the safety of nuclear weapons “in the control of the fascist, racist, Hindu supremacist Modi government”.
Khan said he had eliminated any scope for dialogue with India as his previous attempts had been ignored. He claimed there was “no point in talking to them [India]” as he believed that New Delhi viewed all his overtures for peace as attempts at appeasement. “There is nothing more that we can do,” Khan added.
India’s Ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla refuted the allegations and said Pakistan was expected to take definitive action against terrorism. “Our experience has been that every time we have taken an initiative toward peace, it has turned out badly for us,” The New York Times quoted him as saying. “We are looking at things going back to normal. Restrictions are being eased based on the ground situation.”
Shringla said banks and hospitals in the region were operating normally and sufficient food materials had been stocked. He said the restrictions on communication were “in the interests of safety and security of the citizenry.”
The Pakistan prime minister has repeatedly hit out at the Narendra Modi administration for taking away Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and on more than one occasion likened the ruling Bharatiya Janata party’s ideology to that of the Nazis. He has also alleged that genocide of Kashmiris is imminent. Jammu and Kashmir has been in a lockdown since August 5. Several political leaders have been detained or arrested, and politicians from New Delhi have also not been allowed to visit the region to review the situation.
The Centre has deployed thousands of security personnel in the region to deal with any law-and-order problem. While authorities have claimed they are working on restoring communication lines gradually, sporadic protests in the Valley have slowed down the process. Reports suggest that authorities have used excessive force against protestors, with tear-gas shells and pellet guns being fired.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has tried to raise Kashmir matter at international forums. Last week, the United Nations Security Council held a rare closed-door meeting to discuss the situation in the state. Several countries, including China, the United States and France, have urged the two countries to resolve the matter bilaterally. United States President Donald Trump has twice offered to mediate in the dispute.
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