GENEVA: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi affirmed on Wednesday that a third-party mediation was the only way to resolve the longstanding dispute of Kashmir.
Mr Qureshi addressed a seminar held in the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a far-right, Washington, D.C.-based think tank, and exposed Modi-led Hindu nationalist Indian government’s intentions behind unilateral abrogation of Article 370 of its Constitution to alter the demography of occupied Kashmir.
“We want peace, but in the east, we are facing nuclear-armed and aggressive expansionist India […] despite the challenges posed due to the regional security, Pakistan has been pursuing a multi-pronged approach,” he said.
Later, in his interview with a Swiss TV channel, Mr Qureshi welcomed a decision by Swiss authorities to have included the agenda of Kashmir in their expected meeting with Indian leaders.
“India will have to comply with the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions and the International Law,” he added.
He urged India to immediately lift curfew in occupied Kashmir and allow people their fundamental rights. The minister appreciated the role of international media and human rights organisations in highlighting the Kashmir issue.
Earlier, Mr Qureshi warned that the situation in Indian Kashmir risked sparking an “accidental war”, and asked UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to visit the troubled region.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he believed both Pakistan and India “understand the consequences of a conflict.”
But with tensions soaring since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s autonomy last month, he warned that “you cannot rule out an accidental war.”
“If the situation persists… then anything is possible,” Qureshi said.
India imposed a military clampdown on Kashmir from August 5 to prevent unrest as New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s autonomy. Mobile phone networks and the internet are still cut off in the entire region.
“In this environment and with the mindset that we see in New Delhi today, I do not see any room for a bilateral engagement,” he said, adding that a multilateral forum or a third-party mediator would likely be needed.
“If the US plays a role, that can be important because they have a considerable influence” in the region, he said.
New Delhi, meanwhile, has insisted that the situation in Kashmir is an internal Indian affair, rejecting all international interference in the region.
Tensions over Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan since 1947, have sparked two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals.