Mr Khan said Pakistan will not be the first to strike with nuclear weapons if the two countries started a war over disputed Kashmir – but said his country would “fight to the death”. He told Al Jazeera: “Pakistan would never start a war, and I am clear: I am a pacifist. I am anti-war.
“If, say Pakistan, God forbid, we are fighting a conventional war, we are losing, and if a country is stuck between the choice: either you surrender or you fight until death for your freedom – I know Pakistanis will fight to death for their freedom.
“So when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, to the death, it has consequences.”
Meanwhile, Mr Khan also assured residents of Kashmir today that he will expose years-long Indian oppression and human rights violations in the region when he addresses the UN general assembly this month.
He made the comments in his first speech to a 20,000-strong rally in Pakistan-held Kashmir since the revocation of the special status of the disputed Himalayan region by India on August 5.
Tensions between Pakistan and India have increased since August 5, when New Delhi downgraded the autonomy of Kashmir.
This region is divided between Pakistan and India but both have claimed it.
The two neighbours fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
They nearly went to war again in February, when a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir killed 40 paramilitary soldiers.
India at the time responded by bombing an alleged militant training camp in Pakistan.
Pakistan then said it shot down two Indian air force planes and captured an Indian pilot who was later released.
Mr Khan also requested that rally-goers today should not march towards the heavily militarised Line of Control that separates Kashmir between Pakistani and Indian sides, saying they should wait for his call.
He said: ”Don’t go to the Line of Control until I ask you and I will tell you when to do it.”
Mr Khan was attempting to calm down angry youths who this month clashed with police in Pakistan-held Kashmir after being stopped from marching toward the frontier, where Pakistani and Indian troops are in close quarters.
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The appeal to angry youths came days after thousands of unarmed young people marched toward the frontier to protest the crackdown in Indian-administered Kashmir, triggering clashes with police.
Pakistani and Indian troops often exchange fire, causing troops and civilian casualties.
The rally also comes a day after the country’s military said Indian fire killed one of its soldiers in Kashmir in the latest cease-fire violation.
Mr Khan urged the world community to pressure India to give the right of self-determination to Kashmiris.
In his speech to rallygoers, Mr Khan said if the people in Kashmir were given the right to decide their future, his country would respect their decision.
He said they have faced hardships resulting from a curfew that has been in place in Indian-administered Kashmir since last month.
India and Pakistan increased their tensions after a suicide bomber from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
The Indian Air Forcethen carried out a counter-terror operation and hit the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, Pakistan, on February 26.
The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and shot down a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an Indian pilot, but he was handed over to India on March 1.