Mahathir hits out at India for invading, occupying Kashmir

Published September 29, 2019
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday said despite UN resolutions on held Jammu and Kahsmir, the territory has been  invaded and occupied. — Screengrab courtesy United Nations YouTube
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday said despite UN resolutions on held Jammu and Kahsmir, the territory has been invaded and occupied. — Screengrab courtesy United Nations YouTube

NEW YORK: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday said despite UN resolutions on held Jammu and Kashmir, the territory has been invaded and occupied.

“There may be reasons for this action but it is still wrong. The problem must be solved by peaceful means. India should work with Pakistan to resolve this problem,” he said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

“Ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the UN and the Rule of Law,” he said.

He urged greater international control of sanctions, criticising US attempts to force all countries to stop doing business with Iran.

“We do not know under what laws sanctions are applied. It appears to be the privilege of the rich and the powerful,” the outspoken 94-year-old leader said.

“If you want to have sanctions, let us have a law to govern them,” he said.

“The fact is that when sanctions are applied to a country, other countries get sanctioned as well. Malaysia and many others lost a big market when sanctions were applied on Iran.”

The United States has increasingly used sanctions as a diplomatic tool, with President Donald Trump threatening other nations with punishment if they buy any oil from Iran.

Seeking to curb Iran’s regional influence, Trump unilaterally im­­posed the sanctions after walking away from a multinational nuclear deal.

Speaking to reporters after his address, Mahathir acknowledged that Malaysian firms had little choice but to comply for fear of being hit by US sanctions.

“Generally, the world is helpless,” he said.

Mahathir also renewed his criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation trade pact that includes Malaysia but from which Trump pulled the United States.

“Rich companies had given themselves the power to sue governments. The terms of the agreement were drawn up by them — and they are not all like Bill Gates, who spends some money on charity,” he said.

“Most are bent on exploiting the power money gives them,” he said.

Malaysia does not want to take a confrontational stance towards China over the disputed South China Sea and Beijing’s alleged mistreatment of its minority Uighur Muslims, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in an interview published on Saturday.

Malaysia is too small to face up to the Asian powerhouse, even though Chinese ships surveying its waters for oil and gas in South China Sea do so without permission, he told an online news service during a visit to New York this week.

“We watch what they are doing, we report what they are doing, but we do not chase them away or try to be aggressive,” Mahathir told BenarNews.

“The Malay states have existed near China for the past 2,000 years. We have survived because we know how to conduct ourselves. We don’t go around trying to be aggressive when we don’t have the capacity, so we use other means.”

He said that in the past Malaysia used to send to China “gold and silver flowers every year as a symbol of our being practically, well, subservient to them”. This month, China and Malaysia agreed to set up a joint dialogue mechanism for the South China Sea, as ties between the countries improve. China is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.

Mahathir also said China’s might was the reason Muslim-majority Malaysia did not speak out much against Beijing’s alleged repression of Uighur Muslims.

“You don’t just try and do something which would fail anyway, so it is better to find some other less violent ways not to antagonise China too much, because China is beneficial for us,” he said.

“Of course its is a big trading partner of ours and you do not want to do something that will fail, and in the process, also, we will suffer.” The United Nations says at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained in what China describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2019

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