UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Pakistan called Tuesday for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council, saying India’s decision to strip its part of disputed Kashmir of autonomy poses “an imminent threat” to international peace and could lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Muslim-majority region.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi denounced “recent aggressive actions” by India’s Hindu nationalist-led government, saying they “willfully undermine the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Quereshi accused India in a letter to the council obtained by The Associated Press of implementing a “racist ideology” aimed at turning its part of Kashmir from a Muslim-majority into a Hindu-majority territory. “The Indian actions on Aug. 5, 2019 have opened the way for realization of this fascist policy objective,” he wrote.
Quereshi warned that any such attempt “will evoke strong Kashmiri resistance” and “the anticipated massive repression by India’s occupation forces will lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide.”
He said the Security Council has “the obligation to prevent the recurrence of another Srebrenica and Rwanda,” referring to the genocides in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995 and in Rwanda in 1994.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, whose country holds the council’s rotating presidency this month, said members would discuss the letter.
“Poland believes that this can only be resolved by peaceful means and … we are in favor of dialogue between Pakistan and India to sort out the differences,” he said. “Strained relations between India and Pakistan negatively affect the whole South Asia region and may lead to serious political, security and economic consequences.”
India and Pakistan, which both now have nuclear weapons, claim all of Kashmir and have fought several wars over the divided region.
With the end of British colonial rule in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and mainly Muslim Pakistan. The countries fought their first war over control of Kashmir, which had been a Muslim-majority kingdom ruled by a Hindu maharaja. The war ended in 1948 with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire that left Kashmir divided, with the promise of a U.N.-sponsored referendum on its “final disposition” that has never been held.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. Pakistan denies the charge and says it offers only diplomatic and moral support to the rebels.
On Aug. 5, India’s government announced it was revoking Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood to a territory, which limits its autonomy and decision-making power and eliminates its right to its own constitution.
India has imposed a near-constant curfew and a communications blackout as it tries to stave off a violent reaction to the move. The unprecedented security lockdown kept people indoors on Tuesday for a ninth day.
Qureshi said in the letter to the Security Council that India’s repression in Kashmir has intensified in recent months, “including through the use of draconian laws.” He said that since Aug. 5, “the entire territory has been transformed into a massive military prison.”
The Pakistani foreign minister warned that there is a “danger that India will provoke another conflict with Pakistan to divert attention from its recent actions” in Kashmir.
He pointed to what he called “fake news in India’s controlled media mentioning ‘terrorists’ ready to enter occupied Kashmir across the Line of Control,” the highly militarized frontier. This indicates “that India’s reckless government intends to provoke another crisis with Pakistan, possibly through a ‘false flag’ operation,” Qureshi said.
He said Pakistan did not want a conflict with India. “But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness. If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defense, with all its capabilities.”