Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday took the nation into confidence on the government's strategy regarding Indian-occupied Kashmir through a national address, vowing that Pakistan "will go to any lengths" to support the cause of the oppressed Kashmiri people.
The premier started his address by saying that he wanted to share with the public the government's policy and stance in view of the existing situation in occupied Kashmir, whose special autonomy was revoked by the Indian government earlier this month. He said the time had come for Pakistan's Kashmir policy to take a "decisive" turn.
"When my government came into power, my first priority was to generate peace in the country. India and we share many problems; unemployment, inflation and climate change, etc.
"So we wanted to be friends with everyone [...] From the start of our term, we made many overtures for dialogue [to India] but there were always some problems. They (India) would look for opportunities to accuse Pakistan of terrorism," the prime minister said.
"First they had elections coming up, so we waited for that to be over, we thought when elections would be over, the situation will be different. Then Pulwama happened; a Kashmiri man blew himself up.
"India, instead of introspecting, pointed fingers at us. After the elections, we saw that they tried their best to bankrupt Pakistan and tried to have Pakistan 'blacklisted' at FATF (Financial Action Task Force).
"That is when we decided we should not hold any talks with them because we realised they had a different agenda," he added.
The prime minister recalled that on August 5 New Delhi sent additional military troops to Kashmir and announced that it was now part of India. "This was against the vision of their founding fathers and UN resolutions," he added.
"The message [India] gave on August 5 was that Hindustan belongs to Hindus only and all others are second-class citizens."
He said it was important for the public to understand the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) party — said to be a parent organisation of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — of which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a member.
"They (RSS) believed that Hindus were supreme and there was a hatred for Muslims in their ideology. Their leaders followed racist and fascist ideologies.
"This was the ideology that assassinated Mahatma Gandhi after independence," he said, adding that RSS had been sidelined by Indian governments as a terrorist organisation in the past.
"This was also the ideology that Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah saw and worked towards the creation of Pakistan.
"After [former prime minister Jawaharlal] Nehru's death, the RSS ideology started gaining ground in India and went on to destroy the Babri Mosque, massacre Muslims in Gujarat and which is responsible for mob violence [on minorities in India]."
In contrast, he said, Pakistan's ideology is based on the Holy Quran and believes in the protection of minorities.
Prime Minister Imran said Modi had made a "historic blunder" by revoking occupied Kashmir's special autonomy due to his arrogance, and in doing so "he has opened the way to Kashmir's freedom".
"We received information that they were planning a false-flag operation in Azad Kashmir like what they did in Balakot, to divert attention from occupied Kashmir.
"We won on the [diplomatic] front; we internationalised the Kashmir issue, talked to heads of states, their embassies [and] the UN Security Council called a session on Kashmir for the first time since 1965. We also kept raising this for the international media to report and they picked this up."
He said the government's campaign would continue until Kashmir has attained freedom, and sought the media's support in this regard.
Outlining the government's future strategy to deal with the situation in occupied Kashmir, the premier said: "First, I believe, the entire nation should stand with the Kashmiri nation. I have said that I will act as Kashmir's ambassador.
"I will tell the world about this, I have shared this with heads of states that I have been in contact with. I will raise this issue in my speech at the UN General Assembly as well.
"I read in the newspapers that people are disappointed that Muslim countries are not taking any actions [over Kashmir]. I want to tell you not to be disappointed; if some Muslim countries are not raising this issue because of their economic interests, they will eventually come on our side. They will have to, with time.
"The western media has never criticised India as much as it is doing right now. I want to tell the Kashmiri people that whether the world stands with them or not, Pakistan will."
The prime minister announced that an event will be held every week to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people and coming Friday, the nation will come out between 12-12:30pm to show solidarity.
"They (India) have played their trump card, they don't have any card to play now. Now whatever needs to be done will be done by us and the world.
"This is the UN's responsibility, they promised the people of Kashmir that they would give them the right to decide their future through a plebiscite," he said, adding that while historically the UN has always sided with the powerful, it should know that 1.25 billion Muslims of the world "are looking towards you for help".
"Will these big countries keep looking at their markets only?" he asked.
Prime Minister Imran warned that if was the dispute moved towards war, then the world should remember that "both countries have nuclear weapons".
"In a nuclear war, no one will win. It will not only wreak havoc in this region, but the entire world will face consequences. It is now up to the international community.
"Whether the world joins us or not, Pakistan will go to any lengths and its people will support [Kashmiris] till their last breath," the premier concluded.
The premier's speech comes as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump met at the G7 in France today.
"We spoke last night about Kashmir, prime minister [Modi] really feels he has it under control," said Trump while talking to media. Modi, meanwhile, said all issues between India and Pakistan are bilateral, adding: "I'm confident that we can discuss our problems and solve them together."
Since India's decision to strip Kashmiris of their seven-decade-long special autonomy through a rushed presidential order on August 5, the premier has repeatedly said that the Indian government's policy in the Himalayan region is in line with the "ideology" of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) party — said to be a parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — that believes in "Hindu supremacy".
He has also alerted the international community to a possible "false flag operation" by the Indian leadership to "divert attention from massive human rights violations" in occupied Kashmir.
Lockdown enters fourth week
A communications blackout and heavy restrictions on movement imposed by the Indian authorities from the eve of New Delhi's decision to revoke Article 370 entered their 22nd day today.
However, the turning of the restive region into a fortress of barricades and barbed wire has not prevented protests and clashes with security forces taking place. Police on Monday said stone-throwing protestors killed a truck driver in occupied Kashmir.
In a demonstration in Anantnag district on Sunday protestors hurled stones at a truck that they believed to be a military vehicle. The 42-year-old driver was struck on the head and died, police said.
The Press Trust of India news agency said two men had been arrested over the incident.
India says no civilian has died from police action since August 5. But residents have said three people have been killed, including a young mother who choked after police fired tear-gas canisters into her home.
Multiple hospital sources have told AFP at least 100 people had been hurt during the lockdown, some with firearm injuries.