By Ayaz Gul
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has ruled out talks with India until India reverses recent controversial actions in the disputed Kashmir territory. Pakistan also turned down India's overflight request for its prime minister's upcoming visit to the United States.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan alleged while speaking to reporters Wednesday that "extremist nationalist Hindu racists" are currently in control of the government in India.
"Only an extremist and not-normal mind would place Kashmir under curfew for 45 days," Khan said. "It is not a normal government, and until they lift the curfew in Kashmir and reverse the revocation of (Article) 370, there is no chance of talks with them," Khan said of India.
Last month, India revoked a decades-old constitutionally provided special autonomy for its part of the divided Himalayan region and placed millions of Kashmiris under tight curfew restrictions, as well as a total communications blackout, to suppress protests and dissent.
India's crackdown has detained hundreds of politicians, activists, doctors and lawyers in Kashmir without being charged
Khan said that in his upcoming address to the United Nations General Assembly next week, he will raise the Kashmir humanitarian crisis stemming from the Indian actions.
Pakistan also administers a part of Kashmir and claims the territory in its entirety. The recent Indian steps have raised military tensions between the nuclear-armed rival nations.
Indian leaders defend their latest actions in Kashmir, saying they will improve security and bring economic prosperity to India's only Muslim-majority state, where separatist armed groups have waged a violent insurgency for over three decades.
In a statement Tuesday, Amnesty International condemned India for its Kashmir lockdown and detention of people under the region's controversial "repressive Public Safety Act (PSA).
"The continued use of draconian laws against political dissidents, despite promises of change, signals the dishonest intent of the Indian government. Thousands of political leaders, activists and journalists continue to be silenced through administrative detention laws," said Aakar Patel, the watchdog's country head.
Overflight request rejected
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed the denial of New Delhi's request for allowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to use Pakistani airspace for his official trip starting Friday to Germany and the U.S.
"Keeping in view the situation in occupied Kashmir, and India's attitude witnessed in the tyranny and oppression (facing Kashmiris), and the violations of rights in the region, we have decided not to grant this request," he said.
Indian officials insisted their request for the use of Pakistani airspace was in line with international "protocol for VIP" flights.
Islamabad's overflight refusal means Modi will have to undertake a relatively longer alternate route for his flight.
Currently, Islamabad allows only civilian flights from India to use its airspace.
Pakistan blocked its airspace for all flights from India in February when the two countries came close to the brink of a third war over Kashmir. The airspace was reopened by the Pakistani government in July, but not for flights carrying Indian leaders since New Delhi canceled Kashmir's autonomy.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he has meetings scheduled with both Khan and Modi next week, asserting his contacts with both the leaders have helped ease the latest tensions between their countries.
"I'll see Prime Minister Modi, and we'll be meeting with India and Pakistan (prime ministers)," Trump told reporters on Monday. "And I think a lot of progress has been made," he said, without further elaboration.
Pakistan Rules Out Talks With India Over Kashmir
By Ayaz Gul