Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday met former foreign secretaries and envoys in order to formulate a strategy to navigate developments on the foreign affairs front as New Delhi ratchets up regional tensions in the wake of the Pulwama attack.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, quoting Qureshi, tweeted that the consultation was held to discuss the hostile ambitions of India and the deteriorating situation in Kashmir.
Qureshi said that the consultations with former diplomats were held in order to get their input so that a comprehensive and effective response could be devised to tackle emerging developments.
The foreign minister, after the meeting, said that the discussion with former secretaries over issues pertaining to foreign policy, including the situation in occupied Kashmir, was helpful, adding that the ministry would try to continue the consultations in the future as well.
In a media briefing after the meeting, Qureshi reiterated the Pakistani government's desire for peace, "but I want to deliver a clear message that you are mistaken if you think that you can put Pakistan under pressure by creating war hysteria," he said, in an apparent reference to New Delhi.
Talking about the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, he said that a crackdown was continuing against Kashmiri leaders and citizens.
Quoting former chief minister of occupied Kashmir, Mehboba Mufti, he noted that even those who have "a soft corner" for the Indian government are telling Delhi that it cannot eliminate the ideology or enthusiasm of Kashmiris through arrests. The foreign minister also urged Indian intellectuals to appeal to their government to show restraint.
He said that a new 'spring' was being witnessed among the youth of Indian-occupied Kashmir. Speaking about rising anti-Pakistan and anti-Kashmir sentiment among Indian citizens, Qureshi said that a situation had been created wherein a lawyer and journalist have been attacked, while a Pakistani prisoner had been killed in an Indian jail.
"Reports of attacks on Kashmiri people have been received from 10 Indian states," he said, calling on the the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) government in India to immediately stop creating a frenzy.
Tensions between Islamabad and Delhi have spiked since the Feb 14 attack on Indian soldiers in occupied Kashmir's Pulwama district, in which at least 40 security personnel were killed.
Hostile statements by Indian leaders and provocative reporting by Indian media have added to the already tense environment. Besides the war hysteria, India has initiated non-kinetic punitive measures against Pakistan and removed the Most Favoured Nation trade tag for Pakistan and lobbied to retain Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned India against any act of aggression, saying Pakistan will not hesitate in retaliating to a provocation. Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has also warned India against aggression, saying any misadventure will receive a resolute response from his troops. The National Security Committee in a recent meeting has authorised the armed forces to respond to any Indian misadventure.
On the diplomatic front, the foreign ministry has established a crisis management cell and the foreign minister has spoken to his counterparts in various countries, besides writing a letter to the United Nations. Qureshi has also initiated regional outreach to sensitise Saarc countries about the seriousness of the situation.
The situation has also raised alarm among the international community and United States President Donald Trump described it as “very dangerous”, saying that the US and other influential countries are reportedly trying behind the scenes to defuse the situation.