Khan told the US publication he saw no point in talking to India anymore, saying his offers for talks may have been taken as “appeasement”. “There is nothing more that we can do,” he said.
Reiterating comments he made in public and on social media since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, Khan called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “fascist” and a “Hindu supremacist” and said he worried about the “ethnic cleansing and genocide” in Kashmir.
He also expressed apprehensions of India carrying out a “false-flag operation” in Kashmir to use as an excuse for military action against Pakistan, forcing his country to respond.
“My worry is that this can escalate and for two nuclear-armed countries, it should be alarming for the world what we are facing now.”
On Tuesday, Imran Khan called Kashmir Pakistan’s first line of defence.
Nuclear affairs expert at MIT Vipin Narang read Singh’s comment as a shift in India’s policy.
“Make no mistake: this is by far the highest official statement—from the Raksha Mantri’s (Defence Minister) mouth directly—that India may not be forever bound by No First Use,” Narang tweeted.
“Singh’s statement ominously contained an element of threat,” he later wrote for the Hindustan Times.
It’s a concern Khan and his ministers have raised repeatedly in the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, in an official announcement, Pakistan extended Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s term for another three years in view of the “regional security environment”.
Trump and mediation
Khan’s interview with NYT came a day after he spoke US President Donald Trump, raising the “potentially very explosive situation” between Pakistan and India.
The White House readout of the phone call said Trump spoke with Khan on “the need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India.”
Trump also spoke to Modi on phone. A release by the Prime Minister’s Office release said Modi told Trump “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace,” it said.
Trump’s previous offers of mediation have been rejected by India, which has firmly asserted that Kashmir is an internal matter.