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Pakistani premier predicts ‘bloodbath’ in Kashmir

Imran Khan was speaking at the UN after Indian leader Narendra Modi denounced terrorism but avoided any mention of Kashmir.

Narendra Modi and Imran Khan (AP)
Narendra Modi and Imran Khan (AP)

By Foster Klug and Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press

Pakistan’s leader has denounced his Indian counterpart and warned that any war between the nuclear rivals could “have consequences for the world”.

India’s prime minister took the opposite approach, skipping any mention at the United Nations of his government’s crackdown in the disputed region of Kashmir.

“When a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequences for the world,” Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan said in a wide-ranging UN General Assembly speech in which he called Narendra Modi’s actions in Kashmir “stupid” and “cruel”.

“That’s not a threat,” he said of his war comments. “It’s a fair worry. Where are we headed?”

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Imran Khan speaks to the hall in New York (Richard Drew/AP)

An hour earlier, Indian prime minister Mr Modi addressed the UN meeting with a speech that focused primarily on his country’s development, although he warned of the spreading spectre of terrorism. He never mentioned Kashmir directly.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region. They have been locked in a worsening standoff since August 5, when Mr Modi stripped limited autonomy from the portion of Kashmir that India controls.

His Hindu nationalist government imposed a sweeping military curfew and cut off residents in the Muslim-majority region from virtually all communications.

Mr Khan said there were 900,000 Indian forces in the region policing eight million Kashmiris.

“What’s he going to do when he lifts the curfew? Does he think the people of Kashmir are quietly going to accept the status quo?” Mr Khan said.

“What is going to happen when the curfew is lifted will be a bloodbath.They will be out in the streets. And what will the soldiers do? They will shoot them. Kashmiris will be further radicalised.”

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Narendra Modi addresses the United Nations General Assembly (Richard Drew/AP)

While not mentioning Kashmir by name, Mr Modi touched on terrorism: “We belong to a country that has given the world not war, but Buddha’s message of peace. And that is the reason why our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and outrage.”

He has defended the Kashmir changes as freeing the territory from separatism.

Ahead of their appearances at the UN, residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir expressed hope that their speeches would turn world attention to an unprecedented lockdown in the region.

As the two leaders spoke on Friday, large duelling protests supporting and opposing India’s action in Kashmir were taking place across the street from UN headquarters.

PA

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