Kashmir: Imran Khan says Pakistan will ‘teach India a lesson’

(The Guardian) – Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, has threatened to “teach Delhi a lesson” and vowed to fight until the end against any Indian violations in disputed Kashmir.

In some of his strongest words since Delhi revoked Indian-administered Kashmir’s special status last week, Khan said the army was preparing to respond to anticipated Indian aggression in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

“The Pakistani army has solid information that they [India] are planning to do something in Pakistani Kashmir, and they are ready and will give a solid response,” Khan said.

“We have decided that if India commits any type of violation we will fight until the end,” Khan said during a visit to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in a speech marking Pakistan’s independence day.

“The time has arrived to teach you a lesson,” he said.

Pakistan, which also claims Kashmir and has fought wars with India over the region, responded furiously to Delhi’s decision last week to revoke Indian-administered Kashmir’s special status. It compared the Indian government to Nazis and suggested they might carry out ethnic cleansing.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that it had asked the UN security council for an urgent meeting on the matter, while Khan has previously vowed to lobby heads of state over what he says are illegal actionsby the Indian government. The response by other global powers has so far been muted.

Millions of people in Indian-administered Kashmir remain without landlines, mobiles or internet access, 10 days after an unprecedented blackout imposed hours before India made its announcement.

The territory will remain under a curfew on Thursday as India marks its independence day, a date usually accompanied by protests.

Local media reported some restrictions would be eased after Thursday, but said the communications shutdown would stay in place.

Delhi’s decision strips the disputed state of Kashmir and Jammu of any elements of autonomy, removing its constitution and flag, and scrapping laws that prevented outsiders from buying land. The state will also be split in two.

It is the most radical change in Kashmir since the region joined the Indian union, and many Kashmiris fear it will alter the demography of what is the country’s only Muslim-majority state.

“It’s an existential battle now,” the Kashmiri politician Shah Faesal told the Guardian on Tuesday. He was reportedly detained at Delhi airport on Wednesday.

Other high-profile politicians, including Omar Abdullah, the scion of a prominent political family in Kashmir, and a former chief minister in the state, were arrested last week.

Faesal said Delhi’s actions were “an insult to the dignity of the people”, adding: “My belief is that it will have immediate and long-term consequences. We will see ground mobilisation in the coming days and in the long run you will have sentiment of alienation going further and [it will] erupt.”

He continued: “The common refrain is that everything has finished. Everything has been snatched from us. These are the common lines on every Kashmiri’s lips these days. We have no choice left but to resist.”

Faesal was previously held up as an example of how Kashmiris could succeed in India’s mainstream. He left the Indian administrative service this year to launch a political party, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM).

Delhi’s actions had destroyed any remaining trust in mainstream politics, he said. “Anybody who used to promote the idea that it is possible to have a future with India – all those people are discredited today.”

About 500 people have reportedly been arrested since the security clampdown began, apparently to prevent disorder. Despite strict curfews and a heavy paramilitary presence, 10,000 people protested on the streets of Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, last week when the curfew was briefly lifted for Friday prayers.

India has said the protests were not representative of all people’s opinions, and has downplayed demonstrations, initially suggesting no more than 20 people were involved. BBC footage appeared to show huge crowds on the streets.

The communications blackout and restrictions on movement mean there is a lack of independent information about what is happening in Kashmir. Satya Pal Malik, the state governor, told the Times of India the severing of communications was to prevent unrest.

“We don’t want to give that instrument to the enemy until things settle down,” he said. “In a week or 10 days, everything will be all right and we will gradually open lines of communication.”