President says India is playing with fire that will burn its secularity

President Arif Alvi has said that India is playing with fire by revoking the special autonomy of occupied Kashmir and the same fire will eventually “burn the secularity” of the Indian state, it emerged.

In an interview with Canadian-American media, the president said the Indian government was “living in a fool’s paradise” if it felt that it could improve the situation in occupied Kashmir by revoking Articles 370 and 35-A of its constitution.

Asked whether Pakistan was disappointed that no statement had been issued after the first United Nations Security Council meeting on Kashmir in decades, Alvi said a lot of background discussions on the situation took place and that the “Kashmir issue has been internationalised after a long time”.

He said India has ignored numerous Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and refuses to sit down with Pakistan to settle the dispute.

“For how long that will continue?” he said of the impasse in bilateral talks, stressing that a long time had passed since Pakistan and India entered into the Shimla Agreement of 1972. He questioned whether the world could remain quiet and keep pushing two parties to hold talks when one of them refuses to negotiate.

“I think there is a hegemonistic intent to swallow Kashmir [but] it won’t happen,” the president said.

He said Pakistan will continue to internationalise the issue and the people of occupied Kashmir will make clear their intention once the curfew imposed by Indian authorities in the region is lifted.

Echoing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning, he said there was a possibility that India could stage a false-flag operation “like Pulwama” and then attack Pakistan. “But Pakistan doesn’t want to start a war,” he added.

Alvi said it was India that desired a war with Pakistan but that he would “strongly discourage” New Delhi from walking that route.

“India is going on a road which is very dangerous,” he said, adding that Pakistan was speaking from its experience of tackling extremism when it warned New Delhi against alienating its Muslim population.

Asked how Pakistan would respond if India created the conditions for an all-out conflict, the president said Pakistan could not take everything lying down. “If India starts a war it is our right to defend ourselves,” he stressed.

The Hindu nationalist BJP government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped Kashmiris of their seven-decade-long special autonomy through a rushed presidential order on August 5. A communications blackout and heavy restrictions on movement imposed by the Indian authorities from the eve of this development entered their 20th day.