The prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir has called for the Pakistani government to act “militarily” in the Kashmir dispute with neighbouring India, on the anniversary of Indian air attacks on Pakistani soil that sparked a military standoff between the nuclear-armed countries.
“The government of Pakistan needs to take some daring steps,” he said in the capital Muzaffarabad. “They have to give India a fundamental punch in [Indian-administered] Kashmir. This is my considered opinion.”
Asked what kind of action he was asking for, Haider said it should be both diplomatic and military, and that he conveyed this opinion to the Pakistani government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“If you do not have military force, a diplomatic action does not work.”
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars since gaining independence in 1947 over the mountainous territory of Kashmir, which both claim in full but administer separate portions of. The two territories are separated by a de facto border known as the Line of Control.
On February 26, 2019, India carried out air raids on Pakistani territory in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, with at least four bombs hitting a mountainside and farming village, causing no apparent casualties.
India claimed the raids killed “a very large number of [Jaish-e-Muhammad] terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis”.
The Jaish-e-Muhammad armed group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack earlier in February last year that killed more than 40 Indian security personnel in the Indian-administered Kashmir town of Pulwama.
Since the air attacks, and the ensuing military standoff that saw Pakistan shoot down an Indian fighter jet, tensions have been high between the South Asian neighbours.
Shelling across the Line of Control killed at least 60 civilians in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 2019, a marked uptick from previous years, according to Pakistani government data.
India says Pakistani shelling into Indian-administered Kashmir has also killed several civilians, although the government did not provide specific data.
In August, India revoked a special constitutional status for Indian-administered Kashmir, effectively absorbing the territory into its political and administrative mainstream.
The move was decried by Pakistan as unacceptable, given the territory is subject to a bilateral dispute.
Haider alleged India’s move to integrate the portion of Kashmir it controls was “an attempt to change the demography” of the region by allowing outsiders to migrate there.