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Pakistan PM Imran Khan warns of bloodbath when India lifts curfew

imran khan, pakistan, india, kashmir, curfew, modi, united nations, unga

New York - Khan's fiery speech lasted 50 minutes.

By AFP, Reuters

Published: Sat 28 Sep 2019, 10:32 PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the United Nations on Friday his country's dispute with India over Kashmir could escalate into an all-out nuclear war that would have consequences for the world.
In a fiery speech lasting 50 minutes, Khan said India could unleash a "bloodbath" in the Muslim-majority territory, as the nuclear-armed rivals took centre stage at the UN General Assembly.
His heated speech stood in stark contrast to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address an hour earlier, when the Hindu nationalist leader touted domestic successes but made only an oblique reference to terrorism, taken to mean Pakistan.
Indian-administered Kashmir has been under lockdown since New Delhi scrapped its semi-autonomous status in early August, and Khan said armed forces there would turn on the population after the curfew was lifted.
"There are 900,000 troops there, they haven't come to, as Narendra Modi says - for the prosperity of Kashmir," Khan said. "These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do?When they come out?
"There will be a bloodbath," Khan told the General Assembly.
The 66-year-old leader warned there could be a repeat of the fighting between the nuclear-armed neighbours seen in February if India blamed Pakistan for what he said could be a homegrown militant attack in response to repression.
"If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. But supposing a country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice: either you surrender, or you fight for your freedom till death," Khan said.
"What will we do? I ask myself these questions. We will fight ... and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders," he warned.
Khan said that the conditions in Kashmir were radicalising a new generation and that he himself would take up arms in their situation.
"I've been locked up for 55 days, I've heard about rapes, Indian army going in homes, soldiers," he said, imagining himself as a Kashmiri. "Would I want to live this humiliation? Would I want to live like that? I would pick up a gun. You're forcing people. You are forcing people into radicalisation."
Khan addressed the United Nations a day after the senior US diplomat for South Asia called for a lowering of rhetoric between India and Pakistan, while saying that Washington hoped to see rapid action by India to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees there.
Khan took direct aim at Indian Prime Minister Modi in his speech and accused him of being a "life member" of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist organization that he said believed in the ethnic-cleansing of Muslims.
Modi, in his address to the UN assembly shortly before Khan spoke, made no mention of Kashmir, or Pakistan, concentrating mainly on Indian's efforts to protect the environment.
In Azad Kashmir where many in recent days have been waiting keenly for Khan's address, people were glued to their television sets.
Sohail Iqbal Awan, a lawyer and political activist from the PML-N party, a rival to Khan's, praised the speech and predicted that the United Nations would have to "open its closed ears, eyes and mouth" on the Kashmir issue.
"As a Kashmiri, I felt proud at his balanced, comprehensive and well grounded speech ... despite being his political opponent I am compelled to shower praise on him," he said.
US President Donald Trump met separately with both Modi and Khan on the sidelines of the UN gathering. Trump urged Modi to improve ties with Pakistan and "fulfill his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people," the White House said.

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