Pakistan: India’s Revocation of Kashmir Autonomy May Lead to ‘Genocide’

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan makes a brief statement to reporters before a meeting with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. In remarks before the meeting, Khan said that U.S.-Pakistan relations need to be reset. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday warned that India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s limited autonomy could lead to “genocide.”

China, its ally Pakistan, and their fellow nuclear-armed rival India all have competing claims to the predominantly Muslim Himalayan region of Kashmir. Pakistan and India have fought two wars and a minor conflict over Kashmir. China and India have also fought one war over Kashmir.

Pakistan reportedly warned that India’s decisions to revoke New Delhi-administered Kashmir’s autonomy could lead to another war and “ethnic cleansing” of the local Muslims.

“I fear they may initiate ethnic cleansing in Kashmir to wipe out the local population,” Khan said Tuesday.

Via Twitter on Thursday, the Pakistani PM added that it should be “obvious” that the international community will be witnessing the “genocide” of Kashmiris in what he referred to as India-Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Khan added, “Will we watch another appeasement of fascism, this time in the garb of [the] BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] govt, or will the international community have the moral courage to stop this from happening?”

According to journalist Amber Rahim Shamsi, Khan told reporters on Thursday that he “fears genocide and ethnic cleansing by the racist BJP government”:

New Delhi-administered Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority territory in India, which is currently ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party.

Human rights groups and the United States have accused the BJP of encouraging Hindu extremist attacks against Muslims and Christians. Last month, the U.S. government blasted India for failing to protect religious minorities.

Khan conceded that Pakistan could not afford full out war with India due to its financial woes, journalist Shamsi wrote on Twitter. The Pakistani PM reportedly indicated he is looking to “actively galvanize Western governments and public opinion on the violations in Kashmir.”

Shamsi quoted Khan as saying there is “a 50/50 chance of either limited conventional war or a golden opportunity to solve the issue of Kashmir once and for all”:

Khan allegedly claimed U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute “triggered” India to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy.

However, dissolving the constitutional provision (Article 370) that granted India-held Kashmir’s limited independence was part of a BJP manifesto listing the party’s goals.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also said he fears “genocide and ethnic cleansing” by India in Kashmir. Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also deemed Modi “Asia’s Nazi leader” in a tweet Thursday.

The human rights minister questioned whether European countries would “feign amnesia & let India carry out its ethnic cleansing & genocide in IOK”:

“No justification for the world to look the other way as […] potential genocide is unleashed” in Kashmir, Asad Umar, a former finance minister in Pakistan, also tweeted on Thursday.

Referring to the change to India-held Kashmir’s status, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper noted on Thursday:

The changes include lifting a ban on property purchases by nonresidents of Kashmir, opening the way for Indians outside the territory to invest and settle there. The Muslim population worries that such measures would change Kashmir’s demography, culture, and way of life.

On Wednesday, PM Khan chaired a meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, which decided to downgrade Islamabad’s diplomatic relations with New Delhi over the Kashmir situation.

Khan expelled the Indian ambassador in protest over New Delhi’s move to rescind Kashmir’s special status.

Pakistani lawmakers have also denounced India’s action on Kashmir, which PM Modi defended, saying it will make the region more secure.

A border known as a Line of Control (LOC) divides the portions of Kashmir controlled by India and Pakistan. Islamabad has ceded some (Shaksgam Valley) of its Kashmir territory to China. India contests China’s occupation of land (Aksai Chin) on its side of the LOC.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in its entirety.

China has primarily stayed in the shadows of Kashmir disputes between India and China, providing military and economic support to Islamabad to defend its position. Kashmir borders China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang, the largest province in the country.

Human rights groups and the U.S. have accused China of imprisoning Muslim minorities in concentration camps in Xinjiang, a point raised by India in defending taking away Kashmir’s autonomy.

India urged China to stay out of the Kashmir dispute like it has done with Beijing’s Xinjiang problem.

India, considered the largest democracy in the world, officially rescinded Kashmir’s autonomy this week. The move came amid an indefinite security lockdown and a communication blackout, including blocking phone lines, internet, and news outlets, that continues.

India also declared the portions of Kashmir administered by Pakistan and China to be part of India, angering them both.

India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s limited autonomy has triggered protests in the region. Indian authorities have reportedly arrested more than 500 people in nighttime raids across the region.

Echoing a similar assessment from last year, a U.N. report released last month highlighted a rise in human rights violations and killing of civilians in India-administered Kashmir.

New Delhi denied the allegations.

Last year, casualties (500-plus) in New Delhi-held Kashir alone reached the highest level in decades.

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