Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that Islamabad “does not want war”, however, “if India imposes, then it will give a befitting response”, as tensions escalate between the two neighbours following New Delhi’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir.
The cricketer-turned-politician said that Pakistan will take the issue of “Indian violence against Kashmiris to the United Nations”, while meeting senior journalists here over the Kashmir situation, Geo News reported.
He said that the international community “will be apprised of the Indian tactics, such as ethnic cleansing and plans to change demography of occupied Kashmir”.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief said that he always spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about peace, but the latter has the mindset of “Hitler”.
Khan said “this is a war of public opinion and Pakistan has to win it” and added India “can resort to any measure to divert attention from the situation in occupied Kashmir”.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Islamabad was not looking at military option in the row with India over Kashmir.
“We are rather looking at political, diplomatic and legal options to deal with the prevailing situation. Pakistan has decided to stay vigilant because India can start a false flag operation, similar to Pulwama, anytime,” said the Minister while addressing the media in Islamabad.
“We need to be prepared as India can react anyway.”
Qureshi also said that Pakistan would take the Indian move on Kashmir to the UN Security Council (UNSC) and that the decision had been taken in light of several pre-existing UN resolutions on the Kashmir dispute.
The Minister said that Pakistan “rejected New Delhi’s impression that scrapping Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was its internal matter” and called the “claim wrong from a historical, legal and moral perspective”, Dawn newspaper reported.
Qureshi also questioned India’s stand that the change in the constitutional status was aimed at taking steps for the welfare of Kashmiris.
Noting that as many as thousands of Indian troops had been deployed in Kashmir, Qureshi asked the Indian government whether turning the region into a “virtual jail” was one of its “welfare steps”, according to Dawn.
“I want to ask India what they are trying to prove by taking 14 million Kashmiris in custody? Will the Indian soldiers crush the protesters who will stage a revolt once the curfew has been lifted? he questioned.
Challenging India’s stance that the Kashmir move was its “internal matter”, the Minister said former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had declared “countless times” making at least 14 solemn promises and commitments that “the future of Kashmir is going to be decided finally by the goodwill and pleasure of her people”.
Qureshi told reporters that the world would take time to respond and form public opinion. “India is presenting explanations after we downgraded relations.”
He said that by taking a “unilateral decision in occupied Kashmir, India had attacked the spirit of the Shimla Agreement”.
Citing his conversation on Thursday with EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, the Foreign Minister said it was India, and not Pakistan, that was avoiding to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.
Qureshi termed as “fake news” reports that Pakistan had closed its airspace in the wake of tensions with India.
He also said that Pakistan’s commitment to build the Kartarpur Corridor, which once completed will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district to Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district, “stands”.
He also denied that Islamabad’s suspension of bilateral trade with New Delhi would impact its (Pakistan’s) trade with Afghanistan, saying: “We do not want to put our Afghan brothers into any difficulty.”
The Minister also confirmed that the Samjhauta Express train service between Pakistan and India would no longer continue.