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India: Erdogan’s remarks on Kashmir amount to ‘gross interference’

In February, India made a strong demarche with the Turkish government on Erdoğan’s remarks on Jammu and Kashmir during his visit to Islamabad

India on 23 September rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments that the Kashmir dispute is a “burning issue” for the stability of South Asia, saying they were tantamount to “gross interference” in the country’s internal affairs.

This was not the first time that India and have engaged in a terse exchange on the Kashmir issue—Erdoğan has repeatedly raised the matter after the Indian government scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August last year, and India has pushed back on each occasion.

In a video message for a special session marking the 75th anniversary of the UN, Erdoğan said: “The Kashmir conflict, which is also key to the stability and peace of South Asia, is still a burning issue. Steps taken following the abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir further complicated the problem.

“We are in favour of solving this issue through dialogue within the framework of the UN resolutions and especially in line with the expectations of the people of Kashmir.”

Soon after, TS Tirumurti, India’s permanent representative to the UN, tweeted that Erdoğan’s remarks were “totally unacceptable”.

“We have seen remarks by President of on Indian [union territory] of Jammu & Kashmir. They constitute gross interference in India’s internal affairs and are completely unacceptable. Turkey should learn to respect sovereignty of other nations and reflect on its own policies more deeply,” Tirumurti said.

Erdoğan’s remarks were welcomed by his ally, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who said in a tweet: “Deeply appreciate President Erdoğan once again raising his voice in support of the rights of the Kashmiri people during his address to UNGA. ’s unwavering support remains a source of strength for the Kashmiris in their legitimate struggle for self determination.”

Erdoğan was among the few leaders who had raised the Kashmir issue at last year’s UN General session and he subsequently also raised it during a visit to Pakistan in February. He raised the matter despite India’s external affairs ministry saying such remarks would affect bilateral ties.

In February, India made a strong demarche with the Turkish government on Erdoğan’s remarks on Jammu and Kashmir during his visit to Islamabad. “These remarks reflect neither an understanding of history nor of the conduct of diplomacy. They distort events of the past to advance a narrow-minded view of the present,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson had said at the time.

The remarks in February were also described as “one more example of a pattern of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries”, and India also rejected the “repeated attempts by Turkey to justify the cross-border terrorism practised so blatantly by Pakistan”.

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