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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

No war over Kashmir!

by our Asian Affairs correspondent

PAKISTANI Premier Imran Khan called for international action to defuse the crisis in Indian-controlled Kashmir during an appeal at the United Nations last week, warning the world of the danger of nuclear confrontation if nothing is done to end Indian oppression in the disputed province.

India’s decision to revoke the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir in August has once again pushed relations with Pakistan to breaking point. India’s Hindu nationalist government has imposed martial law and cut off virtually all civilian communications in the province, which has an overwhelmingly Muslim population.

Some 900,000 Indian troops and police are trying to keep the lid on the mounting anger of some eight million Kashmiris living under martial law, who look to their compatriots in Pakistani-protected Kashmir for assistance.

There the leader of Azad (Free) Kashmir, the part of the province liberated by Pakistan during the first war with India in 1947, warned that a nuclear war over Kashmir could lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Masood Khan, the president of Pakistani-protected Kashmir, said: “Even a limited military conflict could evolve into a nuclear war.”

Masood Khan called on the Kashmiri youth to show restraint but warned India that it would “get a prompt response from Pakistan” if it launches another full-scale war.

The Kashmiri leader said that India wanted to seize all of the divided province and was preparing to follow an Israeli model by encouraging Hindus to settle in Kashmir and “reduce the Kashmiri or Muslim majority in the state.

But he recognised the rights of the indigenous Hindu minority in Kashmir and called on those who fled the fighting in 1989 to return to their homes in the Kashmir Valley.

At the General Assembly of the UN, Pakistan leader Imran Khan mocked Indian premier, Narendra Modi, for his actions in Kashmir, which he called “cruel” and “stupid”.

“What’s he going to do when he lifts the curfew? Does he think the people of Kashmir are quietly going to accept the status quo?” he said. “What is going to happen when the curfew is lifted will be a bloodbath.”

Repeating earlier warnings of nuclear war, Khan said: “When a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequences for the world…That’s not a threat. It’s a fair worry. Where are we headed?”

But the Pakistani leader stressed the need for international action to solve the Kashmir problem, calling for “a realistic scenario so that international community could intervene and pile pressure on India”.

Calls for international action to avert another Indo-Pakistani war were heard at Labour Party conference in Brighton last week. Conference unanimously passed an emergency resolution supporting “international intervention in Kashmir and a call for UN led-referendum”, which condemned “the recent actions of the Government of India to revoke Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution and the special status” granted to Kashmir.

It called on the Labour Party, the “government in waiting”, to support clearly and vocally the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination and for international observers to be sent to the region immediately.

Supporting the motion, Labour MP Naz Shah reminded delegates of the “complete lock-down” that the region had been in for the last two months. “There is no communication with the outside world. 750,000 Indian military personnel are placed on guard in the most militarised region in the world, barbed wires cover the city, political leaders are under house arrest and there are reports of the most horrific human rights abuses, with midnight raids, torture, rape and murder. The path to genocide in Kashmir is opening up and the world is silent,” she said.