New York: The prospect for a more prosperous Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, following the abrogation of the Article 370 "cuts the ground under the feet of Pakistan", a country whose "fingerprints" are on terrorist strikes across the world, Indian Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday.
In a hard-hitting opinion piece in 'The New York Times', Shringla said Pakistan has a "vested interest in preventing prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Ladakh area of Kashmir, because a weak economy fuels separatist sentiments in some quarters".
"This fits into Pakistan's larger strategy of using terrorism as a political tool. This is a country whose fingerprints are on terrorist strikes across the world and that was home to Osama bin Laden in his last days. So it also opposes the repeal of Article 370, which legitimised discrimination and hindered economic progress," Shringla said in response to an op-ed published by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the American daily recently.
Over the past few weeks, the senior Indian diplomat said the world has seen a "plethora of comments" from Khan and senior officials of his government painting an apocalyptic picture of India's reorganisation of its province of Jammu and Kashmir - and raising the threat of conflict, including nuclear war, with India.
"Clearly, this prospect for a more prosperous Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, cuts the ground under the feet of Pakistan. Its prime minister claims that he offered to work for peace, progress and prosperity with India. What he does not say is that the assembly line of terrorists that is a major industry of his country continues without pause," he said.
Shringla pointed out that Khan finds it difficult to accept that the Kashmir region is now back on the road to progress and prosperity because the Indian government has repealed an "anachronistic and temporary" provision of law that has hindered development there. He emphasised that the decision of the Indian Parliament to reorganise the province and rescind the Article 370 "corrects a historic wrong" and opens the door to rejuvenate a moribund economy and promote horticulture, tourism and handicrafts that are the unique strength of its culture.
"Equally important, this change will deliver social and economic justice to a region that was out of step with the rest of the nation," he said.
Shringla said while the Indian government's decision to revoke Article 370 will help bring economic growth in Jammu and Kashmir, under Khan's watch, the people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22nd time.
He said the Pakistani prime minister has every right to run his own economy into the ground. But his determination to inflict similar damage on the province of a neighbouring country must be challenged by the international community."
"Khan needs to wake up and smell the tea. Development will happen, progress will be visible, prosperity will take root and terrorism will fail. And India will hope that Pakistan renounces hostility, violence and terrorism to become the normal neighbor that all of South Asia desires," the Indian envoy said.
Shringla also slammed Khan's criticism of India for its treatment of Muslims and other non-Hindu minorities. "This would be laughable if the reality was not so tragic.
When Pakistan was created, its population was 23 percent minorities. This is now down to 3 percent, a figure that speaks for itself. And there are countless faces - Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs - who can testify to this tragic reality," he said.
"And the irony of seeing Islamabad refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Israel and tolerating anti-Semitic sentiment, but now invoking images of European fascism, is simply astounding," Shringla said.
On Khan's suggestion that institutions like the Financial Action Task Force, an international organisation that investigates terrorist financing, are part of a conspiracy against Pakistan, Shringla said the Pakistani leader obscures the fact that the mastermind of the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008 has been shielded by Pakistan.
"And that the Pulwama suicide bombing was carried out by Jaish-e-Muhammad, a United Nations-proscribed terrorist outfit that operates openly from one of his major cities," he added.
He said Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, are now in transition. "Incitement and support from across the border for violence and terrorism are to be expected. Many of the restrictions on travel and communications intended to ensure public order and safety have since been relaxed. Preventing loss of life is the highest priority," he added.
Asserting that India's actions regarding Article 370 have no implications outside of India, Shringla said its external boundaries have not changed. Nor has the Line of Control with Pakistan been affected.
"What has changed is that there is now hope for development that will help the residents of the region - and that will obstruct Pakistan's longstanding support of cross-border terrorism. That is why the prime minister concocts alarming scenarios, hoping to stop these improvements, he added.