By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA – Malaysia has called on India and Pakistan to engage with each other and hold dialogue as tensions escalate over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Malaysia is monitoring the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Malaysia has close and friendly relations with both India and Pakistan,” Malaysian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
This comes after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad about India’s move to abrogate the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir.
"Malaysia encourages the two close neighbors to re-engage in dialogue and negotiations with a view to de-escalate the on-going situation and finding an amicable solution," the statement added.
India on Monday in a shock move divided the disputed region under its control in to two centrally-administered “Union Territories” and scrapped a law which disallowed outsiders to buy land in India's only Muslim-majority state, raising fears that this was an attempt to change demography of the region.
The Himalayan state with a population of 12 million has since been placed under a communication blockade by the Indian government with internet, cell phones and landlines shut. Key Kashmiri leaders have also been placed under house arrest.
Khan, whose country also controls a part of Kashmir, on Tuesday also spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the issue, who promised to play his role in reducing mounting tensions in the region.
Pakistan has also urged the UN to intervene and held an Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Jeddah.
Jammu and Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
Since they were partitioned, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989, according to several human rights organizations.