ISLAMABAD: Islamabad on Friday repeated its warning that India could stage a ‘false flag’ operation to malign Pakistan and the Kashmiri resistance movement or undertake a misadventure along the Line of Control (LoC).

“I want to warn the international community that the Indian leadership will in all probability attempt a false flag operation to divert attention from its massive human rights violations & the unleashing of a reign of terror in IOJK [India-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir],” Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted.

In a telephonic conversation with German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, Mr Khan further warned that Indians could take “some other ill-conceived step on the LoC to divert the world’s attention”.

Tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals spiked sharply earlier this month after the Indian government changed the status of occupied Kashmir through a presidential order and split the disputed region.

In telephonic conversation with German chancellor, Imran says Indians can take some other ill-conceived step on LoC to divert world’s attention from HR violations in occupied Kashmir

Pakistan, which seeks resolution of the Kashmir dispute on the basis of United Nations resolutions and in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiris, sees this unilateral Indian move to change status quo over the occupied region as illegal and troubling.

Public resentment against the decision has been strong in the valley and Indian authorities have been trying to project a picture of normalcy by imposing curfew, which is now in its 20th day, and a communications blackout.

Mr Khan and other Pakistani leaders have on a number of occasions over the past few weeks pointed to the possibility of a ‘false flag’ operation by India in the occupied valley for implicating Pakistan, and distracting global attention from its (Indian) atrocities against the Kashmiris, while playing on the global fears about terrorism.

However, the latest warning by Mr Khan has come in the backdrop of Indian media reports, based on leaks by Indian spy agencies, that allegedly about 100 “terrorists” including over a dozen Afghans, are ready to infiltrate the LoC to launch attacks in the valley and what the Indians say “augment” the “weakened” uprising.

“We are hearing Indian media claims that some terrorists from Afghanistan have entered IOJK for terrorist activities, while others have entered India’s southern reg­ions. These claims are predictable to divert attention from India’s ethnic cleansing & genocide agenda in IOJK,” Mr Khan said.

Although a major ‘false flag’ operation by India is being predicted since the end of July, the recent claims about Afghans allegedly infiltrating LoC along with Pakistani fighters have surfaced after US President Donald Trump recently said that Indians are doing nothing to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. Moreover, the allegations have come at a time when Afghan peace talks are under way in Qatar between the US and the Taliban and Delhi is worried that progress towards a political settlement will undermine its interests in Afghanistan.

Indian PM Narendra Modi is expected to meet President Trump on the sidelines of the Gro­up of Seven summit in the French resort town of Biarritz over the weekend. Mr Trump has twice offered mediation over the Kashmir dispute, which Delhi has rejected. But at the same time India is looking for excuses to deflect growing international pressure over human rights abuses being committed by its forces in occupied Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan and German Chancellor Merkel during a telephonic conversation agreed to cooperate for peace and stability in the region.

Mr Khan said that intensified Indian repression could result in massive loss of Kashmiri lives, which must be prevented at all costs. He emphasised that the international community had the responsibility to act urgently.

Chancellor Merkel said Germany was closely observing the situation. She underlined the importance of de-escalation of tensions and resolution of issues peacefully.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2019