- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tensions over India’s imposition of a curfew and communications blackout in Kashmir escalated Thursday, with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warning that Indian forces could be on the verge of carrying out a major “ethnic cleansing” against Muslims in the disputed territory.

“Will the world silently witness another Srebrenica-type massacre & ethnic cleansing of Muslims in [Kashmir]?” Mr. Khan asked on Twitter, comparing recent developments in the region situated between India and Pakistan to the mid-1990s genocide by Serbian forces against Bosnian Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.

The comment sparked new concern in Washington over the prospect of a military clash between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, where aggressive Indian moves in recent weeks have created a fresh foreign policy headache for the Trump administration.

President Trump, who recently hosted Mr. Khan on a visit to Washington, has sought to tamp down tensions over Kashmir. But the president has made little headway since drawing criticism from the Indian side in June, when he claimed publicly that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate the long-burning dispute over Kashmir’s status.

At the time, Indian authorities rejected Mr. Trump’s claim.

The situation then devolved in early August, when India moved to formally revoke the Kashmir’s autonomous status, and Indian military forces began arresting hundreds of local Kashmiri political figures, also cutting telephone and internet service across the territory.

Mr. Modi defended the controversial moves on Thursday — India’s Independence Day — as about 4 million Kashmiris stayed indoors for the 11th day of a security lockdown and communications blackout.

In a speech in Delhi, the Indian prime minister said Kashmir’s previous status — some political autonomy and a ban on outsiders buying land and taking public sector jobs in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region — had fueled a movement for separatism and was unjust for Kashmiri women, because the law said they lost their inheritance rights if marrying a person from outside the region.

Critics claim Mr. Modi is a Hindu nationalist bent on backing a policy of stripping Muslim control over Kashmir.

In Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim nation, Mr. Khan and other leaders held a self-described “black day” of protest on Thursday to coincide with India’s Independence Day.

On Twitter, Mr. Khan warned that a massacre could be imminent in Kashmir.

“I want to warn international community if it allows this to happen, it will have severe repercussions & reactions in the Muslim world setting off radicalisation & cycles of violence,” the Pakistani prime minister wrote.

There was no immediate response from U.S. officials on Thursday morning.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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