Pakistan's Khan warns of 'bloodbath' when Kashmir curfew lifted

Pakistan's Khan warns of 'bloodbath' when Kashmir curfew lifted

Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Ass
Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan warned on Friday (Sep 27) there would be a bloodbath when India lifts its curfew in disputed Kashmir and that any all-out conflict between the two nuclear-armed nations would reverberate far beyond their borders.

Khan made the remarks in an impassioned speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly after India last month removed the decades-old autonomy in the part of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan.

"If this goes wrong, you hope for the best but be prepared for the worst," Khan said.

"If a conventional war starts between the two countries ... anything could happen. But supposing a country seven times smaller than its neighbor is faced with the choice – either you surrender or you fight for your freedom till death?

"What will we do? I ask myself this question ... and we will fight. ... and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders."

In its clampdown in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority, India flooded the territory - already one of the world's most militarized zones - with troops.

It imposed severe restrictions on movements and cut all telephone, mobile phone and internet connections. Thousands of people were arrested.

New Delhi has since eased some of the curbs, although no prominent detainees have been freed and mobile and internet connections remain suspended.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Both countries rule parts of Kashmir while claiming it in full. Two of the three wars they have fought have been over Kashmir.

Khan address the United Nations a day after the senior US diplomat for South Asia called for a lowering of rhetoric between India and Pakistan while saying that Washington hoped to see rapid action by India to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees there.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the UN assembly shortly before Khan made no mention of Kashmir, or Pakistan, in his speech, concentrating mainly on Indian's efforts to protect the environment.

In Pakistan’s portion of Kashmir where many in recent days have been waiting keenly for Khan's address, people were glued to their television sets.

Sohail Iqbal Awan, a lawyer and political activist from the PML-N party, a rival to Khan's, praised the speech and predicted that the United Nations would have to "open its closed ears, eyes and mouth" on the Kashmir issue.

"As a Kashmiri, I felt proud at his balanced, comprehensive and well grounded speech ... despite being his political opponent I am compelled to shower praise on him," he said.

US President Donald Trump met separately with both Modi and Khan on the sidelines of the UN gathering. Trump urged Modi to improve ties with Pakistan and "fulfill his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people," the White House said.

Source: Reuters/nh