New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again raised the issue of a nuclear standoff amid tensions with India over the government’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Khan, in an interview to Al Jazeera, said he “absolutely” believes war with India could be a possibility. Calling himself a “pacifist”, Khan said: "Pakistan would never start a war, and I am clear: I am a pacifist, I am anti-war, I believe that wars do not solve any problems.”
However, he was quick to drop the N-word in case the country was on the verge of losing a “traditional” war with India. “If say Pakistan, God forbid, we are fighting a conventional war, we are losing, and if a country is stuck between the choice: either you surrender or you fight 'til death for your freedom, I know Pakistanis will fight to death for their freedom. So when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, to the death, it has consequences,” the prime minister said.
Terming the situation a “potential disaster that would go way beyond the Indian subcontinent”, Khan said he had made attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue to ensure peace is maintained.
The prime minister said Pakistan had made attempts to open dialogue with India "to live as civilised neighbours, to resolve our difference [over Kashmir] ... through a political settlement", but the move of the Narendra Modi government to push Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force blacklist had angered them. "So they were trying to bankrupt us economically, so that's when we pulled back. And that's when we realised that this government is on an agenda ... to push Pakistan to disaster," Khan told Al Jazeera.
This is not the first time Khan has warned of a nuclear war. "We will never ever start the war. Both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers and if tension escalates the world will face danger," the prime minister had said.
He had also warned the world community, saying it would be responsible for the "catastrophic aftermath" if it fails to pay attention to India's nuclear arsenal. "I have informed the world that Pakistan does not want war, but at the same time, Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the challenges posed to its security and integrity," Khan had said.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based terrorists, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in aerial combat and captured Indian pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have been simmering since the government repealed Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two UTs — J&K and Ladakh.
Angered by the move, Pakistan expelled Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria and suspended trade ties. The neighbour also sought to internationalise the issue and knocked on the doors of the United Nations. The global community, however, rallied around India, which has maintained that Kashmir was an internal issue and it did not seek any third-party intervention.