–Envoy to US says ‘India’s crackdown on occupied Kashmir could not have come at a worse time for us’
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan has raised the possibility that Pakistan might redeploy troops from the Afghanistan border to the Kashmir frontier – a shift that could complicate American peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.
India, on July 31, sent over 25,0000 additional troops to occupied Kashmir and abrogated Article 370 of the constitution stripping the disputed territory of its special status.
Such a possibility could add a new element to the Afghan peace negotiations, which are said to be in the final stages and would end nearly two decades of American military entanglement in Afghanistan.
“I think India’s aggressive, unilateral actions pose a grave threat to a very tense situation already,” Ambassador Khan said during interviews with Fox News and the New York Times.
“Unilaterally changing the status of a region which has been seen by the international community over the years as a disputed territory […] has really put the region at the verge of a serious conflict.”
He warned that “They [India] are trying to rewrite history and they have tried to deprive a people of their identity,” adding: “[And] they have unilaterally tried to settle an issue which has been there on the UN agenda for almost 70 years.”
“Let me explain this to you and for your viewers, it is just like one fine morning, someone in Washington decides to split the state of New York into three constituent units — without making any reference to the people of the state. And this is done on top of that state being a disputed territory, duly recognised by the United Nations.”
Although the ambassador cleared that Kashmir and Afghanistan issues were separate and that he was not attempting to link them. On the contrary, he said, Pakistan hoped the American talks with the Taliban would succeed and that his country was actively supporting them.
“We are doing all that we can and will continue,” Khan said. “It’s not an either-or situation.”
Nonetheless, Khan noted, “India’s crackdown” on occupied Kashmir, “could not have come at a worse time for us,” because the Pakistanis have sought to strengthen military control along the western border with Afghanistan as part of the effort to help end the Afghanistan conflict by denying the group a safe haven.
“We have our hands full” on the western border, Khan said, adding, “If the situation escalates on the eastern border, we will have to undertake redeployments.”
Right now in Islamabad, he said, “we are not thinking about anything but what is happening on our eastern border.”
When asked how the two nuclear powers could “learn” to coexist; Khan observed it falls to Indian Prime Minister Modi to lead the calls for peace.
“I think the provocation clearly has come from India,” he said. “Prime Minister Imran was here. He spoke to you personally. He also met President Trump at the White House. And we’ve been very consistent in making all the overtures for peace to India.”
Unfortunately, all those gestures have not been reciprocated, Khan lamented.
He added, “It is for the United Nations… it is for friends like the United States and other international players — they need to intervene.”