World Bulletin / News Desk
In an interview given in the wake of the 69th anniversary of the Kashmir dispute, Mahmood blamed the Indian government’s policies in the disputed valley for the rise in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
“[India] is trying to escalate the tension with Pakistan through cease-fire violations and also by firing [weapons] and artillery across the Line of Control [LoC],” the Pakistani envoy said.
Tensions across the LoC, a military boundary splitting the disputed Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, escalated after 19 Indian soldiers were killed in Indian-held Kashmir last month by militants. India claimed the militants had links to Pakistan.
The Pakistani diplomat said the recent tension in Indian-held Kashmir was in fact sparked by the “extrajudicial” killing of a young Kashmiri leader, Burhan Wani, on July 8.
“Since then, India has been using much more brutal force,” he said, accusing the Indian government of the bloody uprising that left over 150 people “martyred” and more than 15,000 reportedly injured since July 8.
He also blamed the Indian forces of allegedly deliberately targeting faces and eyes of Kashmiri protesters, which left 150 people permanently blinded.
“This is what is happening in Kashmir. And the world needs to pay attention,” he said, adding that independent media had limited access to the region.
The ambassador lamented the fact that there was not enough international pressure on India over the issue. “The kind of atrocities being perpetrated in occupied [Indian-held] Kashmir has not elicited urgent and substantive attention of the whole community.”
The envoy appreciated Turkey’s stance on the Kashmir issue.
“Turkey has supported peaceful dialogue, rejected violence and called for a solution within the framework of the UN resolution… We hope that the whole community would exert more pressure.
“In this regard, more of the western countries also have to play their part in terms of creating a situation where India is forced to rethink its policies,” he said.
He said Pakistan had repeatedly tried to talk to India about the issue, but India continues to reject all such calls, insisting that Kashmir was a part of its territory.
About India’s territorial claims over Kashmir, Mahmood said: “[It] is completely contrary to facts and the UN resolution that declared this area to be disputed.
“[The resolution] says that the future of Kashmir will be decided by plebiscite.”
About risks of nuclear warfare over Kashmir, he said: “If there is aggression against to Pakistan, we will be ready to defend ourselves,” but he added that Pakistan hoped there would be no aggression and “no adventurism” from the Indian side.
He said unless the Kashmir dispute was resolved, “there can be no peace and stability in South Asia.”
“If you don’t have peace and stability in South Asia then, unfortunately, the economic potential of the region cannot be properly realized.”
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947.
On Oct. 27, 1947, Indian troops positioned themselves in Kashmir’s largest city Srinagar after India and Pakistan gained their independence at the end of the British colonial rule. The 69th anniversary of this Indian action is observed by Pakistanis and Kashmiris as a “Black Day”, while India commemorates it as “Accession Day.”
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups have been fighting in Indian-held Kashmir against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.