Residents protest against India’s policy on Kashmir in Islamabad on Tuesday. Associated Press
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to change the status of Kashmir ran into fierce opposition Pakistan and China on Tuesday as the disputed territory lay under a telecoms blackout to forestall protests for a second day.
China said it opposed India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status and that New Delhi needed to be cautious on border issues.
“India’s action is unacceptable and would not have any legal effect,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement, drawing an immediate rebuke from Delhi that Kashmir was an internal affair.
China urged India to strictly abide by the agreements reached by both countries in order to avoid any actions that would further complicate boundary issues, Hua said. India and China have a longstanding dispute over the border including in Ladakh, the high altitude area.
Islamabad said it gives only moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was weighing an approach to the United Nations Security Council.
“We will fight it (Modi’s policy) at every forum. We’re thinking how we can take it to International Court (of Justice) ... to the United Nations Security Council,” Imran told Pakistan’s parliament.
Imran feared that India will ethnically cleanse the disputed Kashmir and expressed grave concern at the illegal and unilateral move by India to scrap Kashmir’s special status.
“I fear the Indian government will now do ethnic cleansing in Kashmir,” he said while addressing the joint session of parliament. Kashmir has turned into a graveyard and the movement for freedom can not be crushed by force. What they did in Kashmir is in accordance with their ideology. They have a racist ideology.”
The premier reiterated that the armed forces of Pakistan will retaliate if India pursues aggressive designs against the country. He added that India’s decision to revoke Article 370 of the constitution was planned all along and was part of Narendar Modi’s election manifesto.
Imran said Pakistan wants better ties with neighbouring countries but the incumbent Indian government was following the RSS’s fascist ideology.
Referring to his earlier olive branch to New Delhi, the prime minister said the country strongly conveyed to India that it was not involved in the Pulwama attack. “But they used Pakistan as a scapegoat,” he said and added that the Indian pilot was also returned as a goodwill gesture to convey that Islamabad did not have any ill intentions.
“The Indian government violated its own constitution to promote its ideology and scrapped Kashmir’s special status.”
Imran said his government’s priority was to improve relations with all of Pakistan’s neighbours because it was vital to improve the country’s economic situation. “This session is not only important for the Kashmiri people and the Pakistani people, it will have repercussions around the world. That is why I request all to listen carefully. When we took up government (of Pakistan), our main priority was to address poverty in our country. We reached out to all our neighbours, because without having a semblance of normalcy in ties, we cannot attain stability and alleviate poverty.”
The prime minister said all of his trips to neighbouring countries were meant for this purpose. “I visited Afghanistan, and asked them that we work to address our past differences. I talked to India, telling them if you take one step towards us, we will come two steps towards you. I went to Iran [with similar aims] and I visited America. When I first reached out to India, they expressed concerns that there were militant outfits operating from Pakistan. I told [Narendra] Modi that after the grave and painful tragedy of the Army Public School massacre, all our political parties had resolved to never let the territory of Pakistan be used for terrorist activities. But I got the feeling that the Indian side was not serious about talks.”
Meanwhile, the General Secretariat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed deep concerned about the deteriorating situation in the Jammu and Kashmir including reports of deployment of additional paramilitary forces and use of banned cluster bombs by the Indian forces to target civilians.
Tariq Butt / Agencies