Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s ambassador in the United States, on Thursday wrote an op-ed article in the The New York Times, claiming that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan found it difficult to accept that Jammu and Kashmir was now back on the road to progress and development after the revocation of its special status.
Shringla wrote that Khan and other senior Pakistani officials painted “an apocalyptic picture” of the state’s reorganisation, and also raised the threat of a conflict, including a nuclear war.
He pointed out that under the leadership of Khan, the country was reeling under economic depression, with the national debt exceeding the economic output and the International Monetary Fund having to bail out the economy. “Mr. Khan has, of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground,” Shringla said in the article. “But his determination to inflict similar damage on the province of a neighbouring country must be challenged by the international community.”
The envoy said Article 370 of the Constitution was “anachronistic” and a “temporary provision of law” that stopped development in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the government had now corrected a “historic wrong”.
“Clearly, this prospect for a more prosperous Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, cuts the ground under the feet of Pakistan,” Shringla said.
He said Article 370 prevented the Centre from controlling the affairs of the region, except in matters related to defence, finance, foreign affairs and communications. “While the rest of India experienced strong social and economic development, Jammu and Kashmir lagged in terms of economic growth, employment, fighting corruption, gender equality, literacy and many other indicators,” he claimed.
Shringla alleged Pakistan had “vested interests” in the region as a lack of development helps fuel separatist sentiment, and said it also helped Islamabad to use terrorism as a political tool based on its larger strategy. Shringla said: “This is a country whose fingerprints are on terrorist strikes across the world and that was home to Osama bin Laden in his last days. So it also opposes the repeal of Article 370, which legitimised discrimination and hindered economic progress.”
He said the priority of the government in India was to prevent any loss of life in Jammu and Kashmir and stressed India’s decisions were its internal matter that had no implications outside the country. He said Khan “concocts alarming scenarios” in the hope that it would hinder development in the region.
Meanwhile, the ambassador said India hoped that Pakistan will become a normal neighbour that all of South Asia wanted it to be.
The tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated since India’s moves in Kashmir on August 5. Pakistan responded by downgrading diplomatic ties and suspending bilateral trade. It has raised the matter at the United Nations Security Council, and threatened to take it to the UN Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice as well.
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