Modi made historic blunder: Imran on Article 370 (Lead)

Islamabad, Aug 26 (IANS) Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday claimed his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi made a "historic blunder" by revoking special status for Jammu and Kashmir and in doing so, he opened the way to Kashmir's "freedom".

Despite the world virtually shutting its doors to Islamabad's attempts to censure India, Khan made an address to the nation on the Kashmir issue and claimed "victory" on the diplomatic front.

"We won on the diplomatic front; we internationalized the Kashmir issue, talked to heads of states, their embassies (and) the UN Security Council called a session on Kashmir for the first time since 1965. We also kept raising this for the international media to report and they picked this up."

Khan said it was the policy of his government to have peaceful relations with other countries, including India and Afghanistan. But New Delhi, he said, "always looked for opportunities to accuse Pakistan of terrorism".

"I told India we would take two steps forward if they took one. Our main issue is Kashmir. But every time we brought up dialogue with India, they diverted from the issue and levelled allegations against Pakistan."

The cricketer-turned-politician warned that if India and Pakistan head towards war, "impact will be felt globally".

"In a nuclear war, no one will win. It will not only wreak havoc in this region, but the entire world will face consequences. It is now up to the international community."

Khan said that he would raise the Kashmir issue during the UN General Assembly on September 27 and meet world leaders in New York.

"This is the UN's responsibility, they promised the people of Kashmir that they would protect them. Historically, the world bodies have always sided with the powerful, but the UN should know that 1.25 billion Muslims are looking towards it."

He said that a 30-minute event will be held every week in Pakistan to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people and the first such ceremony will be held on coming Friday.

"... I believe, the entire nation should stand with the Kashmiri 'awam'. I have said this that I will act as Kashmir's ambassador. I will raise the issue with heads of state and international media. I will tell them that this (Modi) is not an ordinary government but one which follows a dangerous ideology," he said.

The biggest shocker for Islamabad has been the attitude of the Gulf countries and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which have refused to get involved in the matter.

Khan said: "I read in newspapers that people are disappointed that Muslim countries are not siding with Kashmir. I want to tell you not to be disappointed; if some countries are not raising this issue because of their economic interests, they will eventually take this issue up. They will have to, with time.

"The western media has never criticized India as much as it is doing right now. I want to tell the Kashmiri people that whether the world stands with them or not, Pakistan will," he added.

His speech came as US President Donald Trump met Modi at the G7 in France and said that the Indian leader has told him the Kashmir situation was "under control" and that both neighbours can settle their issues on their own.

--IANS

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