Pakistan’s interior minister has chastised arch-rival India over the recent violence in Kashmir.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said no country should attack “unarmed” people in the name of fighting terrorism. He said Pakistan was “open to dialogue” but with “dignity and respect.”
Traditionally tense relations between Pakistan and India have been strained further in recent weeks by a flare-up in protests Kashmir, which has been on the boil since the killing of Hizbul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. His death sparked violent protests in the Valley that killed about 50 people and wounded thousands.
Kashmiris have alleged atrocities by Indian armed forces during street protests, and the use of pellet guns has been under the scanner.
Khan spoke on Thursday as a regional gathering of South Asian nations concluded in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
The gathering has been marred by daily anti-India rallies by hundreds of Pakistanis who protested against India’s rule in Kashmir. The protesters also denounced Indian home minister, Rajnath Singh, who attended the Islamabad meeting.
Khan, in his remarks, “drew the attention of SAARC member states to the use of brutal force ...against unarmed civilians engaged in a struggle against foreign occupation”, a barely-veiled reference to Kashmir.
Khan said he hoped the SAARC meeting could be a forum for “a lot of soul-searching on all sides”.
“Maybe that will provide us with the opportunity for ... our leadership to sit together informally and work out solutions to the problem that have been afflicting this region ...Discussions which might not be possible in the glare of media publicity, heart-to-heart discussions,” Khan told the opening session.