NEW YORK – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said the ongoing dispute over Kashmir could start another conflict with India and criticized the neighboring country for what he called “oppressive” policies in the contested region.
Speaking at a press conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Tuesday, Khan spoke gravely about the situation in Kashmir and warned of the chances of a new war with India, Pakistan’s regional rival.
“I came to New York just because I felt that unless the emphasis is on what is happening in Kashmir, the world will not know,” the prime minister said, adding that the dispute for the region creates “a potential that two armed nuclear countries can come face to face.”
“It’s time for the world to act before it goes too far, because it is the first time after the Cuban [missile crisis] that two nuclear-armed countries” could challenge each other on the world stage,” he said.
India and Pakistan fought two wars over Kashmir, one in 1947, shortly after the division of India, and another in 1965. Pakistan currently controls a strip of territory at its western end.
In August, the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special autonomous status, dispatching thousands of troops to the region in preparation for the unrest that was expected after the decision. While many observers have warned of possible abuses against Kashmir’s Muslim majority, New Delhi argues that the move was necessary to fully integrate the region into India and promote economic development.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated the decision as “historic”, arguing that it would reduce local corruption and “nepotism” and allow locals to “elect [their] representatives in a transparent manner.”
Islamabad and New Delhi have traded increasingly harsh barbs since New Delhi terminated the region’s special status, with India accusing its rival of backing terrorist groups in the area, while Pakistan criticized India for a “crackdown” against Kashmiri Muslims and for violating their part of the territory.