Disappointed by lack of global response on Kashmir: Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted for the first time on Tuesday to having been disappointed by the lack of response to his campaign to bring international pressure on India over Kashmir, blaming it on India’s appeal as a “market of 1 billion people” and the fact that Kashmiris are predominantly Muslim.
“To be absolutely frank, I am a bit disappointed by the international community,” Khan told reporters at a news briefing at the United Nations, claiming that the reaction would have been different and more urgent had it been eight million Europeans or the Jewish people or Americans who had been put under siege; it would been different had it been just eight Americans.
“There is no pressure on Narendra Modi to lift the siege,” Khan said, referring to the restrictions in place in Kashmir since the nullification of Article 370 on August 5 and 6, which stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and the decision to bifurcate of the state into two Union Territories, J&K and Ladakh.
And, he said, he believes the other reason for the lack of international alarm has to do with the fact that “people look upon India as a market of 1 billion people and sadly that’s what is happening — material comes over the human”.
Khan and his delegation have raised Kashmir at every forum and meeting and, by his own admission, done everything possible. He listed the world leaders he has spoken to, and not necessarily at the United Nations General Assembly: US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron.
Only Trump responded to his call with an offer of mediation, which came before the nullification of Article 370, and went nowhere and he may have dropped it altogether now after he said on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his side, that the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers can resolve the dispute once they get down to it; he, notably, did not offer his services. Just hours before, though, he had said he stands ready to help if both sides want him to; and clearly, India doesn’t.
No other world leaders have publicly aligned themselves with Trump yet, and that has disappointed Khan, who said, however, he felt encouraged that Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan spoke of Kashmir in his UNGA speech.
“In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbors, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, but not through collision,” Erdogan said. He went on to call for lifting the restrictions, but did not seek either third-party mediation or questioned, or demanded a rollback of, the change in the constitutional status of Kashmir, both key demands of Khan’s “Mission Kashmir”.
That’s just one leader so far, and Khan knows that was not sufficient and said he hoped to see more leaders come forward.
Asked what options are left for him if the international community doesn’t respond, Khan said, “What options do we have apart form this? Attack India, clearly, that’s not an option; apart from that, we are doing everything possible; apart from starting a war, we are doing everything possible.”
He plans to continue raising the issue and will be speaking about it in his speech at the UNGA on Friday.
Modi speaks before Khan and Indians have said the prime minister does not plan to “get into the mud with Pakistan” and breaking from ritualistic exchanges at the UNGA, he will focus, instead, on larger an more pressing challenges that face the world as a growing global power. But Pakistan’s attacks will not go unanswered, and India will use a UN debate rule of Right-of-Reply to defend itself and give Khan a fitting reply.