In a fiery address on Friday to the UN General Assembly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, warned of an all-out conflict with neighbouring India, saying that there will be a “bloodbath” once India lifts its nearly two-month long curfew in disputed Kashmir.
“When a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequences for the world,” Khan said, adding: “That’s not a threat … It’s a fair worry. Where are we headed? I’ve come here because this is a test for the United Nations. You guaranteed the right to determination of the people of Kashmir. You have a responsibility.”
In a wide-ranging address to the Assembly’s annual general debate that also covered issues such as climate change, development, inequality and the perils of rising Islamophobia, the Pakistani leader said that when he first came to power, he pledged that his country would work for peace, throughout the world and within its region, including with India.
He said he had initially spoken with India’s prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered to “work together” to tackle seminal challenges, including poverty and climate change as a way to “build a relationship on trust.” But unfortunately, no headway was made on any front.
Relations between the two continue to erode as tensions rose in Kashmir, including this past February when an Indian convoy in the disputed region was hit with a suicide bomb attack.
More recently, the Prime Minister said, it had become obvious that India was carrying out an “agenda” against Pakistan, particularly when, on 5 August, India had defied UN Security Council resolutions when it revoked Kashmir’s ‘special status’, and increased the number of Indian troops in Kashmir by 180,000, bringing the total number of security forces, according to Khan, to 900,000.
“And they put eight million people in Kashmir under curfew,” he said. “Arrogance makes people do cruel and stupid things,” he continued, adding: “So what is [Prime Minister Modi] going to do when he lifts the curfew? Does he think the people of Kashmir are quietly going to accept the status quo?”
“What is going to happen when the curfew is lifted will be a bloodbath. Has he thought through what happens then?” Prime Minister Khan said, wondering: “The people will be out in the streets and what will the soldiers do? They will shoot them.”
He warned that the result would be that “more Kashmiris will be radicalized. And guess what? India will blame [Pakistan] … and the mantra of ‘Islamic terrorism’ will continue.” Somewhere in the Muslim world, “someone will pick up arms. If there is a bloodbath, Muslims will pick up arms, not because of Islam, but because they will see there is no justice when it comes to Muslims.”
Prime Minster Khan said that if things continue along this road, a face-off between two nuclear-armed nations was all but inevitable. “But before we head in that direction, the United Nations has a responsibility. This is why the United Nations came into being in 1945, to stop [this type of thing] from happening. India must lift this inhuman curfew.”