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15 Feb, 2020 06:04

‘One democracy will settle it & you know which one’: Indian FM tells US senator after he suggests Kashmir can be resolved amicably

‘One democracy will settle it & you know which one’: Indian FM tells US senator after he suggests Kashmir can be resolved amicably

India’s external affairs minister made a pointed correction to US Senator Lindsey Graham after the latter suggested the Kashmir issue should be resolved between “two democracies.” The minister argued it’s only up to one.

Commenting on international conflicts and whether they could be resolved by way of democracy at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Graham expressed hope that “two democracies” would bring the situation in Kashmir to a peaceful resolution, apparently referring to India and its rival neighbor Pakistan. Both lay territorial claims to the whole of the Kashmir region.

“When it comes to Kashmir, I don’t know how it ends, but let’s make sure that two democracies will end it differently,” Graham said, prompting an instant rebuttal from External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar:

Do not worry, senator. One democracy will settle it, and you know which one.

With New Delhi revoking Kashmir’s autonomy status last summer – stating the move was necessary to propel economic development in the area and to combat terrorism and local corruption – Islamabad has slammed the decision, insisting India is oppressing citizens in the part of Kashmir under its control. The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over the disputed territory.

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While the tensions between the two regional arch-rivals have somewhat subsided since the flare-up last February that saw Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaging in open aerial combat, the war of words continues at full tilt.

On Saturday, the ministry offered a stark rebuke to Turkey over its stance on the Kashmir issue after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his support for Islamabad.

“We have never forgotten and will never forget the help which the Pakistani people extended by sharing their own bread during our War of Independence. And now, Kashmir is and will be the same for us,” Erdogan said in an address to Pakistani lawmakers on Friday, while blasting India for taking “unilateral steps” in the conflict.

It is Ankara’s “duty” to help “Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades,” he added.

This triggered a rejoinder from Jaishankar, who implored Turkey to mind its own business and better educate itself on the issue, while referring to Kashmir in its entirety as an “inalienable part of India.”

“We call upon the Turkish leadership to not interfere in India's internal affairs and develop proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region,” he said.

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