India and Pakistan Are Headed Towards a Crisis over Kashmir

In August, Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan pledged that he would serve as an “ambassador” for the embattled people of Kashmir, who are besieged by close to a million Indian security forces. And on Friday, he did exactly that, using the world’s largest platform—the United Nations General Assembly— to voice their plight.

Khan excoriated Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and called on the world to prevent a potential “bloodbath” in the disputed territory, where for two months over nine hundred thousand Indian security personnel have imposed a curfew on the Muslim-majority populace. Thousands of civilians, along with hundreds of political leaders, have been arrested.

After Khan’s speech on Friday, Kashmiris took great risk to show their gratitude to the Pakistani leader, coming out on to the streets, setting off firecrackers, and calling for freedom from India. One Kashmiri man told Al Jazeera that he “felt solace” when Khan spoke, knowing that Kashmiris “are not alone.”

New Delhi’s annexation and siege of Kashmir will prove to be strategic blunders. Indian officials and the country’s compliant private media falsely claim that there is “normalcy” today in Kashmir. They also say that the region will see even greater development and investment tomorrow.

But Modi, his advisors, and even his sycophants in the Indian media are well-aware that he has planted the seeds of long-term unrest in Kashmir. They are well-aware that the change in Kashmir’s status is against the will of the Kashmiri people and their political leadership—even the increasingly discredited lot that has been pro-India. And that is why Kashmiris are caged in and more or less cut off from the world. And that is why their political leaders, who could organize protests, are in prison or under house arrest.

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