Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday defended his comments about Kashmir, which had upset India, and said that the remarks were merely an extension of his discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when the two met in Vladivostok, Russia, the Malay Mail reported. India had cancelled the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution in August, leading to outrage from Pakistan, seen as an ally of Malaysia.
In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month, Mohamad claimed that India had “invaded and occupied” Kashmir despite several United Nations resolutions calling it a disputed territory. “Ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the United Nations and the rule of law,” he added. In response, India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the Government of Malaysia should bear in mind the friendly relations between the two countries and desist from making such remarks.
However, on Tuesday, Mohamad said Malaysia is not taking sides in the conflict. “We must know how to manage this problem,” he told reporters. “We do not criticise, and [by the way], our criticism does not side with anyone. Just demanding that both parties negotiate and not use violence. That has always been our policy. Do not use violence and instead, negotiate, or go for arbitration or go to the court of law.”
Twitter users in India have started a #BoycottMalaysia movement in response to the prime minister’s remarks. But Mohamad said he did not think his remarks would affect trade relations with India. “I have already spoken to Modi,” he said. “If there are any unsatisfactory feelings within Modi, he can contact me, but to date, no calls.”
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