Pakistan PM Imran Khan can run economy to ground but can't inflict damage on neighbour: Indian envoy

Washington D.C. [USA]: As Pakistan continues with its fake narratives on Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370 amid mounting economic challenges, India's ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said that Pakistani Prime minister Imran Khan has every right to run his own economy into the ground but his "determination to inflict similar damage on the province of a neighbouring country must be challenged by the international community".

"Under Prime Minister Khan's watch, the people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22nd time. Mr. Khan has, of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground. But his determination to inflict similar damage on the province of a neighbouring country must be challenged by the international community," Shringla wrote in an Opinion piece published in the New York Times on Thursday.

He said that over the past few weeks, Imran Khan and senior officials of his government have made a plethora of comments painting an apocalyptic picture of India's reorganization of its province of Jammu and Kashmir -- and raising the threat of conflict, including nuclear war, with India. "What Prime Minister Khan finds difficult to accept is that the Kashmir region is now back on the road to progress and prosperity because the Indian government has repealed an anachronistic and temporary provision of law that has hindered development there," the envoy said Shringla said that Article 370 of the Constitution "prevented the Indian government from having any say in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir" except in matters of defence, finance, foreign affairs and communications and this contributed to the province's struggles.

"While the rest of India experienced strong social and economic development, Jammu and Kashmir lagged in terms of economic growth, employment, fighting corruption, gender equality, literacy and many other indicators, he said. The article said that Pakistan has a vested interest in preventing prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Ladakh area of Kashmir, because a weak economy fuels separatist sentiments in some quarters.

"This fits into Pakistan's larger strategy of using terrorism as a political tool. This is a country whose fingerprints are on terrorist strikes across the world and that was home to Osama bin Laden in his last days. So it also opposes the repeal of Article 370, which legitimised discrimination and hindered economic progress," he said. Shringla said that New Delhi's historic decision has finally opened the door to rejuvenate a moribund economy and promote horticulture, tourism and handicrafts that are the unique strength of its culture apart from delivering social and economic justice to "a region that was out of step with the rest of the nation".

"Clearly, this prospect for a more prosperous Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, cuts the ground under the feet of Pakistan. Its prime minister claims that he offered to work for peace, progress and prosperity with India. What he does not say is that the assembly line of terrorists that is a major industry of his country continues without pause," he wrote. Referring to Khan, Shringla said he suggests that institutions like the Financial Action Task Force, an international organization that investigates terrorist financing, are part of a conspiracy against Pakistan.

"He obscures the fact that the mastermind of the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008 has been shielded by Pakistan. And that the Pulwama suicide bombing was carried out by Jaish-e-Muhammad, a United Nations-proscribed terrorist outfit that operates openly from one of his major cities," he said. He said Khan has criticized India for its treatment of Muslims and other non-Hindu minorities.

"This would be laughable if the reality was not so tragic. When Pakistan was created, its population was 23 percent minorities. This is now down to 3 percent, a figure that speaks for itself. And there are countless faces -- Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs -- who can testify to this tragic reality. Fellow Muslims are not spared; ask the Shia, the Pashtun, Sindhi or the Baloch people of Pakistan," he wrote.

The envoy further noted that Islamabad has been calling on the United Nations to address the so-called "Indian atrocities" in Kashmir but it itself skipped out that the minorities, including Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, in the cash-strapped nation are seeking world attention towards their tragic problems. Pakistan has been desperately trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue since New Delhi abrogated Article 370. However, Islamabad has been snubbed on all fronts as the international community has made it clear that Article 370 was in an internal matter and Kashmir issue should be discussed bilaterally.

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