Just over a week after he said that “anything can happen” in the face-off between two “nuclear-armed countries”, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday warned of a threat similar to World War II, but “under the nuclear shadow” this time.
In an Op-Ed article in the New York Times, Khan said: “With the nuclear shadow hovering over South Asia, we realize that Pakistan and India have to move out of a zero-sum mindset to begin dialogue on Kashmir, various strategic matters and trade. On Kashmir, the dialogue must include all stakeholders, especially the Kashmiris. We have already prepared multiple options that can be worked on while honoring the right to self-determination the Kashmiris were promised by the Security Council resolutions and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.”
“Through dialogue and negotiations, the stakeholders can arrive at a viable solution to end the decades of suffering of the Kashmiri people and move toward a stable and just peace in the region. But dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks,” he said.
“It is imperative that the international community thinks beyond trade and business advantages. World War II happened because of appeasement at Munich. A similar threat looms over the world again, but this time under the nuclear shadow,” he said.
In an interview to NYT on August 22, he had said that he doesn’t want to pursue dialogue with India, and, with the face-off between two “nuclear-armed countries”, “anything can happen” — indicating conflict between the two countries.
On August 19, in the first phone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump since the government’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Modi told Trump that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence” by certain leaders in the region was “not conducive to peace”.
This was clearly aimed at Khan, who has ratcheted up the rhetoric against India in the last few weeks.
Since August 5, Khan has threatened to “teach Delhi a lesson”, and told Pakistan’s Parliament that “incidents like Pulwama are bound to happen again”. “What will happen then? They will attack us and we will respond and the war can go both ways… But if we fight a war till we shed the last drop of our blood, who will win that war? No one will win it and it will have grievous consequences for the entire world. This is not nuclear blackmail,” he had said.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, he called the Indian government “fascist”, “racist”, following “Nazi ideology”, and accused it of “ethnic cleansing & genocide ideology”.
On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said, “We condemn the irresponsible remarks and tweets by Pakistani leaders on matters internal to India… The main motive behind this is to form an alarming situation for India which is far from ground realities. Pakistan needs to understand that they have been snubbed from all sides. The world has seen their provocative and unsubstantiated rhetoric based on lies and deceit.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s diplomats at the High Commission in Delhi held a walk inside their compound on Friday to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Addressing the diplomats, Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah said: “We want to assure our Kashmiri brothers and sisters that in this difficult hour Pakistan stands united with them.”