Following a major row over controversial comments from a senior Indian diplomat who in a recent televised speech called for the adoption of the “Israeli model” in Indian-administered Kashmir, New Delhi has added fresh fuel to the fire by another successful test launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Agni-III, on Saturday. This comes after a series prior short-range nuke capable missile tests over the past two weeks.
It was the first night trial of the nuclear capable Agni-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile, fired from an island off India’s east coast into the Bengal Sea. Indian defense sources have touted that the nuke-capable ballistic missile possesses a range of over 1,862 miles, and has successfully hit its targets in the latest tests.
Tensions with Pakistan remain on edge over the months-long Kashmir crisis precipitated by the Indian government revoking the autonomy of the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), after which tens of thousands of Indian national troops poured into the Muslim-majority region in a political crackdown.
And a new diplomatic storm erupted this week after a top diplomat called for Indian to enact the “Israeli model” in disputed Kashmir. Sandeep Chakravorty, India’s consul general in New York, made the comments at a private event captured in a now viral hour-long video.
Speaking of the ongoing security crackdown in J&K, the senior diplomat said, “I believe the security situation will improve, it will allow the refugees to go back, and in your lifetime, you will be able to go back … and you will be able to find security, because we already have a model in the world.”
He was referencing the occupied West Bank and controversial Israeli tactics there, as well as Palestinian East Jerusalem, also under Israeli administration:
“I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” he said, adding that the current Indian leadership is “determined” to do so.
Kashmiri Muslim activist groups were quick to condemn the statements, as well as top Pakistani officials.
The remarks further struck a deep nerve given the religious elements in play. Strongly Muslim countries like Pakistan do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and have repeatedly condemned the Jewish state’s expansionist tactics in the Muslim-majority West Bank as well as military operations inside Gaza.
A senior Indian diplomat has sparked anger by calling for the adoption of an “Israeli model” in Indian-administered Kashmir.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) November 28, 2019
One Pakistani ambassador in the Middle East, Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi, called the comments “shocking but not surprising at all.”
“It has been apparent all-along that encouraged by the international community’s inability or unwillingness to address the situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories, India is now following the same colonial strategy,” he said.
It’s but the latest in a series of dangerous tit-for-tat incidents, which even briefly broke out into military action back in February, over the heightened Kashmir crisis between the two nuclear powers.