MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: India's crackdown on protests and dissent in Kashmir will drive more of the world's Muslims into extremism, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said during a fiery speech on Friday, in the part of the disputed territory administered by Pakistan.
India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5 and moved to quell unrest by clamping down on communications and freedom of movement.
Authorities in Indian Kashmir have arrested nearly 4,000 people since then, government data seen by Reuters showed.
“When atrocities get to their peak, people would prefer that death is better than this insulting life,” Khan said at a rally of several thousand people in Muzaffarabad.
“I want to tell India that, by detaining thousands of people, you are pushing people into extremism,” he said.
“People will rise against India, and it is not just about Indian Muslims, there are 1.25 billion Muslims around the world. They all are watching this.”
Khan branded his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “cowardly” and promised to raise New Delhi’s actions in Kashmir at next week’s UN General Assembly session.
“When you give a message to 200 million Indian Muslims that India is only for Hindus, you will push them to violence,” he warned.
“I particularly want to give a message from here to you, Narendra Modi, that only a cowardly man would suppress people” as India has done in Kashmir, he said.
The prime minister urged people in Azad Kashmir not to approach the Line of Control that separates it from Indian-controlled Kashmir, but to wait for him to press their case in New York.
“I will attend the UN General Assembly next week and God willing will not disappoint the Kashmiri people. I will take a stand there that no one has ever taken.”
He also insisted that Pakistan does not want to go to war with India again — but said Islamabad will respond to any hostility.
He urged people in Azad Kashmir not to approach the Line of Control that separates it from Indian-controlled Kashmir, but to wait for him to press their case in New York.
On Tuesday, Pakistan's foreign minister told the UN human rights forum that India's military presence in Kashmir raised the spectre of genocide.
The Delhi government has said its abolition of Kashmir's special status, which had allowed it to write many of its own laws, is meant to help to combat terrorism and to boost the region's economic development.