SRINAGAR/ISLAMABAD • Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir have the potential to blow up into a regional crisis and it is the right time for US President Donald Trump to mediate, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said yesterday.
Mr Khan's comments come a day after Pakistan accused India of using illegal cluster bombs, killing two civilians and wounding 11 in the disputed Kashmir region. India denied it had used such weapons.
"President Trump offered to mediate on Kashmir. This is the time to do so as situation deteriorates there and along the LOC (line of control) with new aggressive actions being taken by Indian occupation forces," Mr Khan said on Twitter, referring to the heavily militarised de facto border that divides the two parts of Kashmir between both countries.
"This has the potential to blow up into a regional crisis," Mr Khan said.
India's Foreign Affairs Ministry and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr Khan's remarks.
The Indian military yesterday claimed it killed several Pakistani attackers trying to cross the de facto border, as tensions ratcheted up in the disputed region and sent thousands of tourists fleeing.
India has deployed at least 10,000 troops there in recent days, with media reports of a further 25,000 ordered to Kashmir. There were some 500,000 Indian security forces already based there. The government has introduced other security measures, including a call to stock up food and fuel, over terror threat claims.
Amid growing panic among residents, with long queues outside petrol stations, food stores and cash machines, India and Pakistan traded tit-for-tat accusations.
The Indian army said yesterday it had foiled an attempt by a Pakistani team of army regulars and militants to cross the line of control, killing "five to seven" attackers. Pakistan denied the claims, calling them "baseless", as it accused India of using cluster bombs against civilians.
New Delhi has denied the charge.
Tourists and students have been scrambling to leave Kashmir since the Jammu and Kashmir state government said they should leave "immediately" amid new intelligence about "terror threats" to a major Hindu pilgrimage in the region.
Political leaders warned that cancelling constitutionally guaranteed rights, which mean only state domiciles can buy land in the region, could spark unrest in the Muslim-majority state.
Media reports said Indian Home Minister Amit Shah was meeting top officials yesterday and was reportedly planning a trip to the region. Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik hinted Delhi was planning to discuss a Kashmir-related matter in Parliament today, said Indian media.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE