Pakistan says it will exercise all possible options to counter 'illegal steps' taken by India in IoK
Pakistan on Monday said that it would "exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps" taken by India regarding Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).
The comments came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government introduced plans to weaken the special rights of residents in occupied Kashmir, amid heavy deployment of security forces and suspension of phone and internet services in the valley.
In a press release, the Foreign Office (FO) strongly condemned and rejected the move by the Indian government, stressing that IoK was internationally recognised as a disputed territory.
"No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions," read the statement. "The decision will never be acceptable to the people of IoK and Pakistan."
"As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps," the statement read while reaffirming Pakistan's commitment to the Kashmiri cause.
Indian envoy summoned
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood summoned the Indian high commissioner to the FO and handed him a strong demarche on the Indian government's actions regarding IoK.
"The foreign secretary conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions as they are in breach of international law and several UN Security Council resolutions," a second FO statement said, adding that he also underscored Pakistan’s condemnation of the actions aimed at "further consolidating the illegal occupation" of IoK.
Mahmood also condemned other measures taken by Indian authorities to suppress the Kashmiri people, including the imposition of a curfew, deployment of tens of thousands of additional troops, house arrest of Kashmiri leaders and suspension of communication services.
The secretary "called upon India to halt and reverse its unlawful and destabilising actions, ensure full compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, and refrain from any further action that could entail serious implications", according to the FO handout.
He reiterated that Pakistan will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to the indigenous Kashmiri people’s struggle for the realisation of their right to self-determination.
A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of Kashmir was also held at Parliament House today.
The meeting, chaired by committee chairman Syed Fakhar Imam, discussed the situation in IoK and the use of cluster bombs on civilians by Indian forces.
'A dangerous game being played'
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while speaking to DawnNewsTV, said that if the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of India felt that their policies were effective, they would not have imposed governor's rule or conducted politics through presidential orders.
"If they have turned IoK and Ladhak into union territories, it is evident that they have lost hope [...] Kashmiris that used to support them earlier are also in jail or under house arrest.
"Today, India has once again revived and internationalised the Kashmir issue. This will not solve the problem, rather it will escalate it," he warned.
"They will never be able to repress the issue.
"Time will show what a dangerous game has been played."
Qureshi said that the entire international community needed to condemn the Indian move.
Joint session of parliament
Opposition leaders on Monday called for a joint session of parliament to be scheduled in light of the developments.
In a post shared on Twitter, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: "Atrocities in IoK unabated. Extremist Indian government's intentions clear. President must immediately summon joint session of parliament in wake of Indian aggression in IoK."
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the Indian government's "attempt to revoke Article 370" as he called for a joint session of parliament. He said that after reviewing the situation, a comprehensive strategy should be formulated.
The PML-N president added that Pakistan should also immediately call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
"This is a matter of Pakistan's national interest, all of Pakistan is united. The time has come for Pakistan's political and military leadership to take collective decisions — Pakistan is united for the Kashmiri cause," he said.
At a press conference in Lahore, he said "butcher" Modi had carried out the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujrat state in 2002, and so it was "childish" to expect him to resolve the Kashmir conflict after being elected.
"Today is a test case for the international community," he said, adding that Pakistan expected the world to support the Kashmiris to have their special status restored.
The opposition leader said the situation was also a test for US President Donald Trump to prove that his offer for mediation in Kashmir was not on account of some "personal agenda" but that he was serious about it.
"Otherwise we will be forced to believe that this was President Trump's gimmick to pull American troops out of Afghanistan," he said.
'India cannot alter IoK status'
Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said it was not enough to condemn India's move which was "against all international norms and international law along with UNSC resolutions".
"Kashmir is recognised as a disputed territory in UNSC resolutions. India cannot alter IoK status through its parliament," she said.
Mazari said that the International Court of Justice should be approached along with the UN Security Council and other international forums and human rights organisations.
"This is illegal annexation of a militarily-occupied territory and completely unacceptable."
In a post shared on Twitter, former finance minister and PTI leader Asad Umar said that the Indian constitutional amendment was in violation of international resolutions as well as India's own constitution.
"Is India still a constitutional democracy or is [it] now practically under Hindutva raj?" he asked.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said that India has exposed itself by revoking Article 370.
Talking to the media in Islamabad, she said that the Kashmiri leadership and Pakistan have rejected the Indian move to change the demography of IoK.
Awan said that despite all the claims to be the world's largest democracy, the Indian government through an ordinance used a "black law" to hold the Kashmiri people hostage.
PPP leader Sherry Rehman questioned where the international community was in response to the developments in IoK.
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz said that her rally scheduled to take place in Sargodha tomorrow would be dedicated to Kashmir.
"Shall not only express solidarity with our Kashmiri brethren but will highlight Indian govt’s atrocities, human rights violations and dictatorial decree of revoking Article 370 & reneging on all international commitments," she said in a post shared on Twitter.
At a press conference, Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq said India through its unilateral actions of today had violated the Simla agreement and the UN charter. He urged political parties to unite for the cause of Kashmir despite their political differences.
He also expressed the fear that this move by India could "propel the region into war".
PM apprises Turkish, Malaysian leaders of situation
Also on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad to apprise them of the recent developments in IoK.
During his conversation with the Turkish leader, Prime Minister Imran said that India’s move to modify the special status of IoK "would have serious implications for the regional peace and security", according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.
President Erdogan "shared the concerns" on the evolving situation in IoK and assured the premier of Turkey’s "steadfast support" in this regard, the statement said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister told his Malaysian counterpart that India's announcement regarding the change in IoK's status was "in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions".
He stressed that today's move by New Delhi would "deteriorate the peace and security of the region and would further undermine the relations between two neighbours (India and Pakistan) with strategic capabilities".
Prime Minister Mahathir told the premier that Malaysia was closely monitoring the situation in IoK and "would remain in touch".
He also said that he looked forward to meeting Prime Minister Imran on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
With additional reporting by Sanaullah Khan.