ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday assailed India’s Hindu nationalist government and its moves to cement control of Muslim-majority Kashmir, calling India a state sponsor of hatred and prejudice against Islam.
Khan said at the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders that Islamophobia rules India and threatens the nearly 200 million Muslims who live there.
“They believe that India is exclusive to Hindus and others are not equal citizens,” he said in a prerecorded speech to the U.N. General Assembly, which is being held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Khan has frequently criticized the August 2019 decision by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strip Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, scrap its separate constitution and remove inherited protections on land and jobs.
India’s action and a security clampdown that followed has sparked protests. U.N.-appointed independent experts have called on India to take urgent action.
Residents of the heavily militarized Indian-controlled region of Kashmir say security forces have arrested thousands of young men, raided people’s homes, inflicted beatings and electric shocks, and threatened to take away and marry their female relatives. Thousands of protesters over the past year have been wounded by shotgun pellets, including hundreds blinded in one or both eyes. For seven months, until March, the area was under a communications blackout, with social media and internet access banned.
“The international community must investigate these grave violations and prosecute the Indian civil and military personnel involved in state terrorism and serious crimes against humanity,” Khan said.
The larger Kashmir region is split between India and Pakistan. The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over the territory. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India. Pakistan denies the charge and says it offers only diplomatic and moral support to the rebels.