Pakistan Says India Created 'Very Dangerous Situation' in Kashmir, Wants U.S. to Help and Warns of War

Pakistan's top diplomat told Newsweek that his country was seeking international mediation in avoiding another conflict with India after its controversial power play in contested Kashmir.

Speaking to Newsweek ahead of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the leader had since the beginning of his administration reached out in hopes of making peace with longtime rival India. But when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealed the special semi-autonomous status of his own share of their disputed border, Qureshi said that the time to settle the issue—already the subject of three wars over the years—between the two alone was over.

"I think we've come to the conclusion after one year of continuously trying that it is pointless," Qureshi said. "After these actions I do not see any bilateral movement, the only way this issue can be resolved is through third-party facilitation. President Trump can play a role, he has a lot of influence over them and the Security Council, which is responsible for peace and security, can play a role."

"What India has done by this unilateral, illegal action of their's is they have threatened the peace and security of the region," he added. "Two nuclear-armed states face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball that's a very dangerous situation."

pakistan foreign minister qureshi kashmir
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks to Newsweek about the situation in India-administered Kashmir, tensions in the Persian Gulf and Prime Minister Imran Khan's upcoming speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Newsweek

Qureshi isn't the first to issue such a warning. Speaking to Newsweek, Pakistan-administered Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan, Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. Asad Majeed Khan and Prime Minister Khan's Special assistant for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari have issued appeals since India's repeal of Articles 370 and 35a on August 5.

The move essentially put India's only majority-Muslim state under the direct rule of the government in New Delhi, which sent in scores of security forces to enforce a tight crackdown on movement and media coverage. Organizations such as Amnesty International India, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Office have described grim conditions to Newsweek.

Qureshi listed some of the alleged abuses he has heard of as the restrictions in India-administered Kashmir neared the two-month mark.

"Day and night curfew, people have no access to hospitals, children are not being able to go to school, all businesses are shut, attendance in government offices are minimal, there's no public transport, the few buses they're applying on the roads are for cosmetic purposes, there are no passengers in it," Qureshi told Newsweek.

"Thousands of people have been arrested, young boys are being picked up, tortured, girls are being picked up, molested, religious freedom curbed, people can't go to their Friday prayers, all kinds of excesses taking place," he continued. "There's a lot of rage, the youth is angry at this uncertainty, families that are divided, they have no idea what's happening."

"One has heard reports of people with kidney failure dying because they could not get dialysis in time, life-saving drugs aren't available, cancer patients suffering, people suffering a heart attack, ambulances are not available, people are dying in hospitals, death certificates not being issued, pellet guns are being used and people are going blind," he added.

india kashmir protests crackdown unrest
Protesters hold torches as they shout anti-Indian slogans and protest a security crackdown in Anchar Soura, Srinagar, India-administered Kashmir, September 26. Though media access was restricted, bouts of increasing unrest have been reported on India's side of the disputed border with Pakistan in response to the repeal of Articles 370 and 35a. TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

India has denied such reports, with administration officials and supportive politicians arguing that the measure was necessary to curb a three-decade insurgency that has ravaged India-administered Kashmir. New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of sponsoring Islamist militant groups such and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar accused his national rival Tuesday of "creating an entire industry of terrorism to deal with the Kashmir issue."

"We'll now see that investment of 70 years undercut if this policy succeeds, so there's is today a reaction of anger, of frustration in many ways because they've built an entire industry over a long period of time," Jaishankar said during a talk at the Asia Society in New York.

"They have to accept, and this is not a Kashmir issue, it's a bigger issue. They have to accept that the model which they have built for themselves no longer works, that you cannot in this day and age conduct policy using terrorism as a legitimate form of statecraft," he added. "I think that's at the heart of the issue we have no problem talking to Pakistan, but have a problem talking to terrorists, and they have to be one and not be the other."

One such group that India has accused Pakistan of sponsoring is Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Islamist movement claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitary force members in Pulwama, leading India to conduct cross-border strikes against alleged militant training camps. Pakistan—which says it has moved to rein in such non-state actors—retaliated against Indian military positions and a dogfight ensued, with India suffering at least one aircraft downed and its pilot captured following the most dramatic escalation between the two neighbors in decades.

Trump himself commented on the issue for the first time, calling for restraint on both sides and, shortly after, Pakistan returned the detained Indian pilot in what was termed a gesture of peace. India merely considered the handover a matter of international protocol and tensions continued to climb.

But Qureshi argued Modi violated a number of laws in his unilateral move on Kashmir, which has been the subject of the 1972 Simla Agreement that established the Line of Control following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The treaty mandated that all issues of Kashmir be settled between them alone.

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A map published in 2002 shows India's disputed borders at the Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China. Central Intelligence Agency

"For one year we've been sending messages to India, overtures of peace, of sitting together and resolving our issues through bilateral negotiations. India did not respond, in fact there was a rebuff from their side," Qureshi told Newsweek. "India was bound to the Simla agreement to move bilaterally on issues that are controversial, but the action taken on the 5th of August was not bilateral in nature. It was a unilateral action to which Pakistan has reacted very strongly, so have the Kashmiris."

"Not a single Kashmiri of any shade of political opinion has supported this move, every Pakistani has rejected it, and within India it is very controversial," he added. "There are 14 petitions lying in the Indian Supreme Court, people have challenged this action, they think it is unconstitutional, they think it's a violation of Security Council resolutions, International Law, and the U.N. Charter."

As Pakistan's diplomatic offensive to raise awareness on Kashmir swept New York, Qureshi said "the reaction is gradually unfolding," noting positive responses from media outlets, human rights organizations, the U.N., various parliamentarians from the likes of the U.S., the U.K., France and Iran as well as some regional organizations like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which recently issued a statement calling for dialogue and respect for U.N. Security Council resolutions.

"The governments are slow in reacting because of obvious interests, Qureshi told Newsweek. "They have political interests, they have bilateral trade, they investments so they are a bit more cautious."

Speaking Thursday at a separate Asia Society event that the former cricket World Cup Champion called "net practice" for his upcoming General Assembly appearance, Khan said his "main reason coming here on this United Nations General Assembly was because I feel that the world should realize this is a serious situation developing."

"This is just the beginning, the fact that eight million people, almost 52 days, are under siege, it's dangerous because when the siege lifts, I fear bloodshed and when there's bloodshed, there will also be repercussions that go further out of Kashmir. It will raise tensions between Pakistan and India," he added.

"As things get from bad to worse, things will deteriorate even in our own country, so it's very important in for the world community, for the United Nations to take action before things get out of hand."