ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan warned citizens Wednesday that anyone who goes to fight jihad in Kashmir will hurt the territory’s cause, as anger simmers between Islamabad and New Delhi over the disputed region.
Indian authorities are waiting for “any excuse” to crack down in the Himalayan region, he warned, promising again to raise the issue at the United Nations General Assembly next week.
Tensions have spiked over Kashmir since Delhi moved on August 5 to revoke the autonomy of the portion it controls.
Since then, leaders in both countries have engaged in an escalating war of words, with Delhi warning that Pakistan was planning attacks.
Islamabad has promised to stand by the Kashmiris following the move and publicly accused India of carrying out a potential “genocide” in the region.
India has flooded its side of Kashmir with troops in a security clampdown to prevent any violence, igniting outrage in Pakistan.
“If someone from Pakistan goes to India to fight… he will be the first to do an injustice to Kashmiris, he will be the enemy of Kashmiris,” Khan said during a speech in Torkham, on the border with Afghanistan.
“They need an excuse,” he said of Indian troops. “It will provide them an excuse for torture and barbarism.”
Khan spoke after Pakistan fired back Wednesday at Delhi’s “jingoistic rhetoric” when India’s foreign minister vowed to retake Islamabad’s portion Kashmir.
“We strongly condemn and reject” the remarks, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement hours after Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a press conference Tuesday that Pakistan-administered Kashmir is “part of India and we expect one day that we will have the… physical jurisdiction over it”.
Tensions have spiralled since New Delhi’s move on its side of the de facto border — the Line of Control — to change the status of the Himalayan territory.
Khan has held demonstrations across the country to protest the move and will highlight the issue later this month at the UN General Assembly in New York.