KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he offers no apologies for his comments on the conflict in Kashmir, which he recently admitted had strained Malaysia’s ties with India.
Speaking at a “Solidarity with Kashmir” event today, he said he chose to speak up about the issue despite being aware of the potential backlash he would face.
Mahathir said the events that occurred in the region since his comments at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly only proved his point, adding that it even made his remarks mild and restrained in comparison.
“To my mind, keeping quiet is not an option when all the tell-tale signs were pointing towards another situation whereby a big and powerful country imposed its will with impunity on a small and defenceless nation.
“I offer no apology for what I had said though I am sorry that it had affected our palm oil export to India. I don’t know if that is a high price to pay for speaking out against such injustices.
“Now that I am no more the prime minister, I take it that I can speak without restrain and address the Kashmir issue without threats of boycotts and such,” he said.
Mahathir said his concerns about the conflict were not baseless, citing the comments of a senior Indian diplomat who allegedly said Delhi needed to employ an “Israeli model” in Kashmir.
“It is indeed beyond comprehension that a diplomat exposed to the ways of the world could even think, let alone suggest, for his government to use Israel’s model of occupation on Palestine as the manner or strategy to administer Kashmir.
“Surely, he would be well informed of the atrocities and the genocidal actions the Tel Aviv regime had dished out on Palestine and the Palestinians.”
Mahathir reiterated that the conflict in Kashmir needs to be resolved in a peaceful manner, calling on India and Pakistan to work out a solution together and to heed the UN’s advice.
In his speech at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept 28 last year, Mahathir had said that “despite the UN resolution on Kashmir and Jammu, the country has been invaded and occupied”.
His comments sparked an online backlash with Indian social media users calling for a boycott of Malaysia. Mahathir, however, maintained his stance.