Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has slammed his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for committing a “strategic blunder” by revoking the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir.
Khan, while addressing parliamentarians in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, said the Indian government’s decision to scrap the Muslim-majority region’s autonomy will be “very heavy” on Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as he reaffirmed his support for the Kashmiri people.
“Modi has committed a strategic blunder,” said Khan during his visit to Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. “He has played his last card. They have internationalised the Kashmir issue.”
Khan’s visit to the disputed region, to mark Pakistan’s independence day and show solidarity with the people of Kashmir, came more than a week after India issued a surprise executive decree stripping the special status of its portion of the region.
Ahead of the August 5 decree, Indian authorities imposed an unprecedented lockdown in the region – cutting off communication lines and restricting movement – which is now in its 10th day.
Pakistan has launched a diplomatic offensive aimed at reversing the order and formally asked the United Nations Security Council late on Tuesday to hold an emergency session to address India’s “illegal actions”.
Khan reiterated his opposition to India’s move and vowed to serve as the “ambassador to raise the voice for Kashmir” globally.
“We will go to every international forum…we will go to the international court of justice.”
He also warned India against any attack on Pakistan-administered Kashmir to divert attention from human rights violations in the Indian-administered portion of the Himalayan region.
“We have decided that if India commits any type of violation we will fight till the end.”
Both India and Pakistan claim the entire region of Kashmir in full but rule it in part. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the disputed Himalayan territory.
India’s crippling lockdown of the region was imposed to stave off a violent reaction to Kashmir’s downgraded status after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted the Muslim-majority region considerable autonomy.
India’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir blocks the state’s right to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has also decided to divide the state into two “union territories” to be controlled by the federal government.
“We are not at war with India, but we are against its ideology,” said Khan. “This ideology has been inspired from Hitler’s Nazi party.
“We are all concerned at the moment about truth of the humanitarian crisis and the atrocities created by this lockdown.”
According to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, restrictions on freedom of movement in the region will be eased after India’s independence day on Thursday.
In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, residents told Al Jazeera that they have been unable to communicate with their family members on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) – the de facto border dividing Kashmir.
“We spoke to a father whose daughters went on summer holiday and he said he doesn’t even know if they are alive,” said Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Muzaffarabad. “For the last 10 days, they have not been able to get in touch.”
On Tuesday, India’s Supreme Court, which is reviewing a petition for the immediate withdrawal of severe government restrictions in Kashmir, said the security crackdown and communications blackout in the region should continue.
Amnesty International India condemned the court’s decision, saying that its refusal to pass an order on lifting restrictions in Kashmir was “a blow to the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.
Rights groups and activists have expressed “deep concern” over the restrictions, warning of increased tensions and increased risk of human rights violations.