Imran Khan talks of plebiscite, India slams comment

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also spewed venom against India, claiming that state terrorism was being carried out in J&K.

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday meekly toed the Pakistan Army’s line by claiming that atrocities are being perpetrated in Jammu and Kashmir and demanding a plebiscite. Completely ignoring Pakistan’s hand in violence in Jammu and Kashmir and the fact that it is harbouring men accused of cross-border terrorism and targeting India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, he tweeted, “Strongly condemn the new cycle of killings of innocent Kashmiris... by Indian security forces. It is time India realised it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the (decades-old) United Nations Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”

Predictably, the tweet drew a sharp reaction from New Delhi which termed the remarks “deeply regrettable”. India demanded instead that Pakistan take “credible action against all kind of support to terrorism and terror infrastructure from all territories under its control rather than supporting and glorifying terrorists and terror activities against India and its other neighbours”.

“Pakistan’s deceitful stand on dialogue, while supporting terror and violence, stands exposed to the whole world,” said the ministry of external affairs.

India has always dismissed as “irrelevant” suggestions for a plebiscite in Kashmir, asserting that the state is an integral part of the country and its citizens have willingly chosen a democratically-elected government.

Mr Khan’s Kashmir comment came on a day when the Indian Army asked the Pakistan military to take back bodies of two “armed intruders” from that country who were killed in a gunfight along the Line of Control (LoC) in Sunderbani sector of Jammu on Sunday. Three Indian Army soldiers had also been killed in the encounter.

Indian Army sources said a stern warning had also been issued to the Pakistan Army to restrain the operation of terrorists from Pakistani soil or territory controlled by it.

Mr Khan’s fresh suggestion for a plebiscite found support in the Valley where prominent cleric and politician Mirwaiz Umar Farooq wrote on Twitter, “People of #Kashmir appreciate Pakistan’s concern, but to put an end to the appalling grind of repression and human right abuse that Kashmiris are suffering at the hands of Indian state urgently requires #Pakistan as a party to the dispute to do much more.”

On Monday, Kashmir valley and parts of the Jammu region’s Chenab valley were shut to mourn and protest the killing of seven civilians in an explosion and injuries to scores of others in it and subsequent clashes with the security forces in southern Kulgam and neighboring Anantnag district on Sunday.

The shutdown came on the eve of Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Kashmir valley on Tuesday to review the law and order situation with governor Satya Pal Malik.

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also spewed venom against India, claiming that “state terrorism” was being carried out in J&K.

After coming to power in August this year, it was being hoped that Mr Khan would take some effort to address India’s core concern of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Mr Khan has long been accused of being a stooge of the Pakistan Army and ISI. However, soon after his electoral victory, he had earned some goodwill in India by offering an olive branch to New Delhi.

The Pakistan Prime Minister had last month mooted a meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers in New York. New Delhi had initially agreed but later cancelled the meeting after the killing of Kashmiri policemen by Pakistan-backed terrorists in J&K and release of postage stamps by Islamabad glorifying slain terrorist Burhan Wani.

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