Ready to Accept Independent Kashmir: Imran Khan

Prime Minister Imran Khan

Islamabad: As the communication lockdown on the Indian side of Kashmir enters fifth month Prime minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan is ready for a referendum on its side of Kashmir to allow people decide about their own political destiny.

Imran Khan reiterated that his country is ready to hold a referendum in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to give people the right to decide whether they want to remain with Pakistan or be independent.

In an interview to Deutsche Welle, Khan said the “best thing” would be to let the people decide through a referendum or a plebiscite.

“The best thing is (to) let the people of Kashmir decide. The people of Pakistan Kashmir and the Indian Kashmir. Pakistan is all ready to give them the right through a referendum or a plebiscite. Let them decide whether they want to remain with Pakistan or want to be independent. We’re all for it,” he told DW’s Editor-in-Chief Ines Pohl in Islamabad.

When asked about the human rights situation in Pakistani Kashmir, Khan said Pakistan was open to allowing people from anywhere in the world to visit. “We invite anyone, anywhere in the world to come see the Pakistan side of Kashmir and then go see the Indian side of Kashmir. Let them see the difference… they will not be allowed to go to the Indian side of Kashmir,” he said.

Asked if he thinks the international community is paying little attention to the Kashmir conflict, Imran said: “Sadly, yes”, considering the media attention the protests in Hong Kong are getting.

The silence of world on Kashmir is due to commercial interests because India is a big market, he said. In the strategic Western mind, India is supposed to be a counterbalance to China. “Therefore, you see a completely different approach…,” he added.

Khan’s comments appeared a day after, the UN Security Council discussed the Kashmir situation on the call of China for the third time since the revocation of its special status by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an attempt to take the disputed region off the table in any future talks with Pakistan.

When probed on ties with India, Khan claimed he made “every effort” to talk to the Modi government, but it was due to the “RSS ideology” that the country was not responding. He also said he was the first leader to “warn the world about what is happening in India”.

Khan said, “India has been taken over by a racially extremist, exclusive ideology which is called Hindutva. The ideology stems from RSS. 

“When I first became the prime minister, I made every effort to talk to the Indian government. But it soon transpired that there was a reason why India was not responding, and the reason was the RSS ideology. And this became evident on August 5 when they unilaterally annexed Kashmir,” Khan said.

Not ready for peace with India without resolving Kashmir issue in just manner: Pak FM

Pakistan is not prepared to pay any price for peace with India and certainly not without resolving the Kashmir issue in a just manner, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said.

Addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think-tank here on Thursday, Qureshi reiterated Pakistan's demand that US President Donald Trump should mediate to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories on August 5, evoking strong reactions from Islamabad.

Pakistan has been trying to rally international support against India on the issue.

"Our government wants peace in the neighbourhood. We want, we need peace in order to focus on achieving our domestic agenda for economic reform and development. But we are not prepared to pay any price for peace with India, certainly not our dignity and certainly not without resolving the Kashmir dispute in a just manner," Qureshi said.

He alleged that instead of fighting poverty and hunger together, the "RSS-inspired BJP government has embarked upon the project of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra".

"The adherence of Hindutva and an Akhand Bharat have established this ascendancy with disastrous consequences for all in India and the world to see," he alleged.

Qureshi said on August 5 India tried to change the "disputed status" of Jammu and Kashmir and "alter" its demographic structure, breaking all relevant international laws and "violating" several UN Security Council resolutions in the process.

India has been seeking to break the will of the Kashmiri people by imprisoning them in their homes and imposing a communications blockade that continues to this day, he said.

"Indian narrative that Kashmir is India's internal part is firmly refuted by its being on the Security Council agenda. If this were not the case, why would the French President raise it with the Indian Prime Minister?" he asked.

"We know that President Trump is profoundly worried by the Kashmir situation and we welcome his repeated offers of mediation in resolving the Kashmir dispute. The United States alone commands the moral authority and respect in South Asia to resolve the longest pending dispute on the UN agenda," he said.

"We hope president Trump is successful in realising his goal and can make a lasting contribution to substantial peace in South Asia. That could be his enduring legacy," Qureshi said.

Although President Trump has offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue in the past, New Delhi has told Washington that it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan and there is no scope for any third-party mediation.

On the sidelines of the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz in August last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while interacting with the media alongside President Trump, categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and "we don't want to trouble any third country".

On a two-day visit to Washington DC, Qureshi is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien on Friday. On Thursday, he met lawmakers at the US Capitol.

In his speech, Qureshi referred to the recent arrest of an Indian police officer and joined the conspiracy theory about terrorist attacks in India.

"Meanwhile, we all followed reports of capture of Indian police officer, Davinder Singh, whose footprint is now being seen in some major terrorist attack, which India itself orchestrated and blamed on Pakistan," said Qureshi.

"We have been consistently warning the world community about another false flag operation against Pakistan that Davinder Singh was accompanied by two militants on his way to Delhi in close proximity to Republic Day celebrations should not be lost on anyone," the minister said.

Qureshi said that the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens were raising fundamental questions about the ideals like democracy and secularism that India's founding father passionately advocated.

He said that every other day, military officials or politicians from India make veiled threats against Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, Qureshi met members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee.


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