In interview with Al Jazeera, Pakistan’s prime minister says Pakistan is maintaining neutrality in rifts between allies
Pakistan has exhausted all possible routes to peacefully resolve its dispute with neighboring India, Prime Minister Imran Khan told Al Jazeera in an interview that is set to be broadcast tomorrow (Wednesday).
Discussing the long-standing rift between Islamabad and Delhi, Khan claimed that economic interests had prevented any efforts of resolution from succeeding. Echoing a stance he has maintained since Aug. 5, 2019, Khan accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of undermining India’s legacy of secularism by pursuing a Hindutva agenda.
“India fell under the control of an extremist ideology [that of] the RSS,” Khan told Al Jazeera, referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh organization that critics allege has fomented anti-Muslim hatred in India. Modi has been a member of the RSS since 1970. “What India’s Muslims are facing resembles what happened during the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany,” he said, reiterating comparisons between the Nazis and the RSS that he has stated several times since Pakistan and India almost went to war in February 2019.
Referring to Kashmir, the prime minister said Delhi’s abrogation of Article 370 of its constitution had turned the disputed region into an “open-air prison.”
Article 370 was the basis of Kashmir’s accession to the Indian union after India and Pakistan’s independence from British rule in 1947. The legislation granted India-held Kashmir special status allowing it to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defense, foreign affairs and communications. Aug. 5 marks the first anniversary of India’s move, which has drawn criticism from global human rights organizations and the U.N.
“Within a year, Kashmir has been closed off and its economy destroyed,” Khan said, adding that 800,000 Indian troops had trapped Kashmiris in an “open air-prison.”
According to excerpts of its interview with Khan that Al Jazeera has released ahead of its broadcast, the prime minister claimed Islamabad had played an important role in defusing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. He said Pakistan’s efforts have prevented a military escalation—which he described as the “worst possible scenario” for the Middle East—from taking place between the two rivals.
“Our mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia has not stopped and we are making progress but slowly,” he said. “We have done our best to avoid a military confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and our efforts have succeeded,” he added.
The prime minister also said that Pakistan would maintain its neutral stance in a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, whose relationship has soured since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Gulf kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018. He said that he had decided against attending a Muslim summit held in Malaysia last year to preserve unity among Muslims, insisting that Islamabad viewed both Ankara and Riyadh—which boycotted the event—as reliable partners in several fields.