Pakistan will no longer seek dialogue with India, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, raising fears that tensions between the neighboring rivals could spiral into all-out conflict.
In an interview with The New York Times following New Delhi’s decision to strip India-Occupied Kashmir of its autonomy, the cricketer-turned-politician said his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, had repeatedly refused to respond to his calls for dialogue. “There is no point in talking to them… I have done all the talking,” he said. “Unfortunately, now when I look back, all the overtures that I was making for peace and dialogue, I think they took it for appeasement.”
Ties between Pakistan and India have been strained following tit-for-tat airstrikes earlier this year after a Pakistan-based militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in India-Occupied Kashmir that was perpetrated by a local separatist.
New Delhi’s decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution, which granted autonomy to disputed Kashmir, has provoked further enmity. A complete telecommunications blackout, still partially in force, and reports of human rights violations have added to an international outcry about the situation in Kashmir.
During his interview with The New York Times, Khan described Modi as a “Hindu supremacist,” reiterating views he had voiced in Parliament and on social media. “The most important thing is that eight million people’s lives are at risk. We are all worried that there is ethnic cleansing and genocide about to happen,” he added.
Khan also echoed concerns he had earlier expressed in Parliament that New Delhi might attempt a “false flag operation” in Kashmir to justify before the global community a military assault on Pakistani soil. In such a scenario, Khan said, Islamabad would have no option but to respond in kind.
“And then you are looking at two nuclear-armed countries eyeball to eyeball, and anything can happen,” he told The New York Times. “My worry is that this can escalate and for two nuclear-armed countries, it should be alarming for the world what we are facing now.”