Pakistan‘s Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for UN action over India’s decision to revoke autonomy from Indian-administered Kashmir, saying the risk of war between the nuclear-armed neighbours made the issue a cause for global concern.
The appeal on Monday came as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected third-party mediation over the disputed Himalayan territory. He was speaking on the sidelines of the G7 summit alongside Donald Trump, the president of the United States, who has previously offered to act as a go-between in the dispute.
Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full, but rule it in part.
On August 5, Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government triggered a fresh crisis over Kashmir when it revoked the Muslim-majority region’s semi-autonomous status and imposed an unprecedented security lockdown in the territory.
It drew deep anger in Pakistan, which said last week it would take the case to the International Court of Justice.
In a televised speech on Monday, Khan called Modi’s intervention a “huge blunder” and said Pakistan would “go to any length at every forum” to press the issue.
The United Nations has a responsibility to ensure the people of Kashmir had the right to decide their own future through a referendum, he said, but the global body was “standing with the powerful countries”.
Khan added: “If the situation leads to war, do remember that both the countries have nuclear weapons and no one can win a nuclear war. It will not only affect us, it will affect the whole world, that’s why today all the responsibility is on the international community and on the superpowers.”
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the territory.
The two countries came close to war in February this year after an attack on a police convoy in Indian-administered Kashmir prompted a dogfight in the skies over the region.
On Monday, Modi maintained on Monday that the Kashmir dispute was a bilateral matter.
“All issues between India and Pakistan are bilateral. And that is why we don’t trouble other countries over these issues. And I’m confident India and Pakistan, who were one before 1947, can discuss problems between ourselves and resolve them,” he said.
The Indian leader has previously said the revocation of Kashmir’s special status would spur economic growth in the region and bring an end to decades of armed rebellion that has killed thousands of people.
Meanwhile, Trump said there was no need for him to mediate between the two countries because Modi felt he has the situation “under control”.
“We spoke last night about Kashmir, the prime minister really feels he has it under control,” Trump told reporters.
“They speak with Pakistan and I’m sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good.”
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said Khan did not believe dialogue could bring a resolution.
“As far as Pakistan is concerned, India has killed the bilateral forum with its unilateral move. So, Pakistan feels there is no other way but international mediation to sort out this issue.”
In his speech, Khan, who ruled out seeking further dialogue with India over Kashmir last week, said he will raise the issue when he addresses the UN General Assembly on September 27.
He also called on Pakistanis to stop work for half an hour on Friday as a mark of solidarity with Kashmiris.