Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday warned that Indian actions in Jammu and Kashmir were breeding extremism by pushing Kashmiri youth to the wall.
Addressing a rally in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir, Khan described Kashmir a “humanitarian issue”, promising to raise it at the UN General Assembly session later this month.
“I want to tell India that your forces’ atrocities in Kashmir are pushing the youths towards extremism. They (youths) will fights against this brutality, because they would prefer an honorable death over a life with humiliation,” he said.
Prime Minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, cabinet members, local politicians, artists, and sportsmen, including former cricket star Shahid Afridi attended the rally, in a bid to express solidarity with people in India-administered Kashmir.
“If you mistreated me, the women and kids of my family, I would have fought because, I would have thought that death is better than this life,” an emotional Khan said, as the crowd waved Pakistani and Kashmir flags.
Khan cautioned his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, that his actions were not only targeting Kashmiris, but also increasing a sense of isolation and insecurity among 200 million Indian Muslims.
“I want to assure you that we will never disappoint you. I will take a stand on Kashmir, which has never been taken [by any government] in the past,” said Khan, while referring to the forthcoming UN General Assembly session.
Citing the attack in which 44 Indian soldiers were killed in February this year in Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Khan said the brazen attack was carried out by a Kashmiri youth, who had been tortured and humiliated by Indian forces.
“India held Pakistan responsible, whereas, it was a reaction to Indian brutalities,” he added.
He said even if some countries remained silent on Kashmir, because of their trade interests with India, 1.25 billion Muslims all over the world will not remain quiet.
“Many of them could also go towards extremism,” he said in a thinly-veiled reference to some Gulf countries who reacted mildly over India’s scrapping of the special rights to Jammu and Kashmir region last month.
Even as many political parties in Pakistani part of Kashmir are insisting to organize a march towards the Line of Control (LoC) — a de facto border, that splits Jammu and Kashmir, Khan said he would himself give the call for a march.
Political parties in the region want to reenact demolition of Berlin Wall which was dividing Germany from 1961-1989.
“I fully understand your emotions. Many of you want to march towards the LoC. But not right now, I will ask you when we have to go to the LoC. Let me first go to the UN, and tell the world what’s happening in occupied Kashmir.
And if this issue is not resolved, the whole world will suffer,” Khan told the emotional crowd.
He also warned New Delhi against any “misadventure” like attacking Pakistani territory. “In case of any misadventure each brick will be responded with a stone,” he added.
Already soured relations between the two South Asian nuclear rivals, have further plummeted after India scrapped the special provisions to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5.
Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.
Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 90% of the region.
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.
The provisions also protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.