Border tensions with India in 2019 were a major stress point for Prime Minister Imran Khan when he came to power, he revealed in an interview with international media.
Speaking to Middle East Eye (MEE), the PM said that there was a flare up between the two hostile states in 2019, in which an Indian pilot’s plane was shot down. PM Khan was referring to Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s plane being shot by Pakistani forces after he entered Pakistan’s airspace. PM Khan said the situation was particularly contentious because both India and Pakistan were nuclear states. PM Khan told MEE that the tensions were allayed after Varthaman was released by the Pakistan government.
During the interview, PM Khan also drew parallels between Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir and Israeli crimes against Palestinians. PM Khan accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being inspired by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu’s anti-Palestine policies.
The PM added that diplomatic ties between Israel and India were strengthened after Modi visited Israel in 2017, following which Netanyahu visited India the next year. The military cooperation ran deep between the two countries, Khan said, after the two worked to develop aerial defence systems and the Israel Aerospace Industries.
PM Khan also said that India took notes from Israel in its occupation of Kashmir. The premier talked about the abolishment of Article 370 in the Indian constitution, which put an end to Kashmir’s autonomy. He added that Kashmiris feared that the government was trying to change the demographic composition by eventually allowing settlers to buy land in Kashmir. This, PM Khan said was a page out of Israel’s playbook, which too let settlers brazenly inhabit Palestinian land.
The PM also spoke about the US role in the Kashmir issue and maintained that India enjoyed immunity from international scrutiny due to their hostility with China. PM Khan said that the United Nations General Assembly had full confidence in the veto powers of the US, who would use India as a ‘bulwark against China’.