India’s permanent representative to the United Nations (U.N.), T. S. Tirumurti, on Wednesday condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in which he called for a multilateral resolution to India’s border dispute with Pakistan in Kashmir, labelling Erdogan’s remarks as “gross interference” and “completely unacceptable.”
Erdogan, head of Turkey’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), delivered the remarks to a special session of the UNGA in a recorded video on Tuesday. The Turkish leader described the South Asian border dispute as a “burning issue” for regional stability, according to the Hindustan Times.
“The Kashmir conflict, which is also key to the stability and peace of South Asia, is still a burning issue. Steps taken following the abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir further complicated the problem,” Erdogan said.
The Indian government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, scrapped the Jammu and Kashmir region’s local constitution and divided the Indian-controlled territory in 2019.
“We are in favor of solving this issue through dialogue within the framework of the UN resolutions and especially in line with the expectations of the people of Kashmir,” Erdogan added. He and other world leaders did not address the assembly in person due to Chinese coronavirus concerns.
Tirumurti retorted via Twitter that “Turkey should learn to respect sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply.”
Under Erdogan, Turkey has dramatically escalated its efforts toward foreign military intervention. In 2019, the Turkish military entered and occupied large portions of northern Syria. The following year, the Turkish military deployed to Libya in an effort to prop up the Government of National Accord (GNA) against the forces of Russia-backed warlord Khalifa Haftar. Erdogan has also sparked international disputes with Armenia and Greece.
We have seen remarks by President of Turkey on Indian UT of Jammu & Kashmir. They constitute gross interference in India’s internal affairs and are completely unacceptable. Turkey should learn to respect sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply.
— PR UN Tirumurti (@ambtstirumurti) September 22, 2020
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, a fellow Islamist, greeted Erdogan’s speech warmly, taking to Twitter to express his gratitude to the Turkish president for “raising his voice in support of the rights of the Kashmiri people.”
He went on to describe the border dispute as a “struggle for self-determination” by the local Kashmiris.
Deeply appreciate President Erdogan once again raising his voice in support of the rights of the Kashmiri people during his address to UNGA. Turkey’s unwavering support remains a source of strength for the Kashmiris in their legitimate struggle for self determination. pic.twitter.com/RIBJAIUpty
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 23, 2020
The Indian and Pakistani governments have vied for sovereignty over the Kashmir region, situated at the northernmost tip of India, since the departure of the British government in 1947 and the subsequent partition of the Raj between the two powers, according to Britannica.
India, Pakistan, and China each control a portion of the Kashmir region. After the British withdrawal, the Maharaja of Kashmir initially sought to keep the region independent, but ultimately opted for Indian control. The ensuing conflict between India and Pakistan led to a ceasefire line, which has served as an informal boundary since.