New FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says it was difficult for Islamabad to deal with nuclear-rival New Delhi, which is implementing a "racist policy in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir," during his visit to UN in New York.

FM Bhutto was at UN for a meeting on food security and met on the sidelines with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
FM Bhutto was at UN for a meeting on food security and met on the sidelines with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AFP)

Pakistan's new foreign minister has said there was little scope for dialogue with nuclear rival India as he denounced "racist" actions by New Delhi in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, visiting the United Nations weeks after his appointment under a new government, said on Thursday it was difficult to deal with a country that is "implementing a racist policy in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir," referring to India-administered Kashmir, which India unilaterally annexed in 2019 after cancelling its semi-autonomy – a long-held Hindu nationalist pledge to scrap the restive Muslim region's special privileges and forcibly assimilate the region into India.

"Having said that, we are very cognisant of the fact that economic activity, dialogue, diplomacy are ultimately the ways and means for countries to engage with each other and resolve disputes," he told reporters.

"I just note that, particularly at the moment, given this aggressive, hostile behaviour, the practical space for that happening is very limited," he said.

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Sour relations

Bhutto Zardari, the 33-year-old son of a famous political dynasty, also complained about India's recent redrawing of electoral constituencies that critics say dilutes Muslims' vote in the Himalayan territory.

Earlier this month, New Delhi unveiled a new electoral map of the region ahead of elections, giving greater representation to the Muslim-majority region's Hindu areas and sparking accusations of "gerrymandering" and "settler colonialism."

Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan in 2015, a year after taking office, but relations have plunged in recent years.

Analysts say that India is hoping for more pragmatic steps with Pakistan's new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, whose own political family has a history of being able to deal diplomatically with India.

Bhutto was visiting the United Nations for a meeting on food security and met on the sidelines on Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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Unending conflict 

Rebels in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi's rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebels' goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Today, it is one of the most militarised regions of the world, with more than 500,000 Indian soldiers and paramilitaries deployed across the fractious territory.

India alleges the Kashmir rebellion is "Pakistan-sponsored terrorism". Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and Indian forces have been killed in the conflict.

READ MORE: Pakistan should invoke universal jurisdiction for India’s crimes in Kashmir

Source: AP