Imran Khan accuses India and Israel of moral bankruptcy over election annexation pledges

Ben Farmer
Imran Khan has also accused Narendra Modi of whipping up war hysteria for electoral purposes  - AFP

Imran Khan has accused India's leaders of moral bankruptcy for trying to win votes by annexing Kashmir, after Narendra Modi pledged to remove its special autonomous status if re-elected.

In outspoken remarks just days before voting begins in India's upcoming election, Mr Khan said Mr Modi was flouting a United Nations resolution and his own constitution with his manifesto pledge.

Pakistan's prime minister also attacked Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, after he promised to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected on Tuesday.

“Don't their people feel a sense of outrage and wonder at how far they will go simply to win an election?” Mr Khan asked.

Mr Modi earlier this week told a crowd at Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters he would scrap the autonomous status Jammu and Kashmir has had since 1954. He would also remove laws that prevent outsiders from buying property in the state.

Scrapping the protections would help integration with the rest of the country, the BJP has argued. However political leaders in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where Indian forces are fighting a fierce armed insurgency, have predicted the repeal would stoke further unrest.

Kashmir and tensions with Pakistan have become a key election battleground in the election after a suicide bombing killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in the region in February. Both countries claim the disputed territory Kashmir, and it has been at the the heart of military tensions between the neighbours for decades.

Mr Modi's manifesto pledge on Kashmir risks a backlash in the region Credit: Reuters

Mr Modi's decision to launch a retaliatory air strike inside Pakistan after the bombing was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group led him to pose as a strong national security candidate. The clash is thought to have helped Mr Modi's electoral chances by distracting from his failed economic promises. But Mr Khan has accused the BJP of “whipping up war hysteria” to win the election.

Pakistan's government has accused India of plotting further military action to win votes, claiming it has “reliable intelligence” that India will attack again this month.

Voting in India's general election begins on Thursday but, with around 900 million people eligible to vote, the polls will be held around the country over coming weeks, and the votes will be counted on May 23.