Indian economic interests thwarted efforts for peace between Islamabad, New Delhi: PM Imran

Premier accuses Modi of undermining India's legacy of secularism in interview with Al Jazeera

NEWS DESK August 04, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan has exhausted all possible routes to amicably resolve its dispute with India but New Delhi's economic interests have barred Pakistan's efforts from bearing fruit, said Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.

"India fell under the control of an extremist ideology [propounded by] the 'RSS'," said Imran, referring to the
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh organisation, to which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs and which is accused of fomenting anti-Muslim hatred.

The organisation, the origins of which date back to the early 20th century and the tenets of which are widely believed to underpin the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's ideology, has long maintained that Hinduism is the basis of Indian nationalism.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Imran discussed Pakistan's long-standing dispute with its eastern neighbour and accused Modi of undermining India's legacy of secularism.

"What India's Muslims are facing resembles what happened during the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany," he said, according to snippets released by the broadcaster of the interview scheduled to be aired on Wednesday.

With regards to Kashmir, Imran said that the Indian government's revocation of Article 370 in August 2019 turned the disputed region into an "open-air prison".

Article 370 was the basis of Kashmir's accession to the Indian union at a time when former princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from British rule in 1947.

The article, which came into effect in 1949, granted Indian-administered Kashmir special status, with the Muslim-majority region given jurisdiction to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defence, foreign affairs and communications. But many of those powers were gradually watered down by New Delhi.

"Within a year, Kashmir has been closed off and its economy destroyed," said Imran. "Eight-hundred thousand Indian troops have imposed an open air-prison on Kashmiris."

Imran also said that Pakistan would maintain its neutral stance in the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, whose relationship has soured following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Asked about his absence from a Muslim summit held in Malaysia last year, Imran said he decided to not attend the meeting in order to preserve unity among Muslims, insisting that Islamabad viewed both Ankara and Riyadh - which boycotted the event - as reliable partners in several fields.

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