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New Delhi sheds fig leaf, robs held Kashmir of special status

Updated August 06, 2019

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(Clockwise) Students chant slogans during an anti-India rally in Hyderabad on Monday after the move by New Delhi to revoke occupied Kashmir’s special status. In New Delhi, supporters of India’s left wing parties attend a demonstration against the presidential decree. In Lahore, activists of the Youth Forum for Kashmir hold a rally, and in Jammu, Indian soldiers stand guard on a deserted street.—AFP / Reuters
(Clockwise) Students chant slogans during an anti-India rally in Hyderabad on Monday after the move by New Delhi to revoke occupied Kashmir’s special status. In New Delhi, supporters of India’s left wing parties attend a demonstration against the presidential decree. In Lahore, activists of the Youth Forum for Kashmir hold a rally, and in Jammu, Indian soldiers stand guard on a deserted street.—AFP / Reuters

• Imran talks to Erdogan, Mahathir on implications of move for regional peace
• FO says India can’t alter disputed status of Kashmir by revoking Article 370
• Indian high commissioner summoned
• Corps commanders meeting today

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday vowed to go all out to counter the illegal Indian action of ending the autonomous status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir as Prime Minister Imran Khan started reaching out to world leaders to take them into confindece on the implications of Delhi’s move for regional peace and stability.

“As a party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” said the Foreign Office in reaction to India’s annulling Article 370 of its constitution that gave an autonomous status to the occupied territory.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had in its election manifesto promised to end the autonomous status of India-held Kashmir and integrate the Valley into the union. Although the BJP had always been averse to Kashmir having a special status, it could not earlier revoke that because of its reliance on allies during earlier stints in power. The 2019 elections gave the BJP a decisive majority, enabling it to implement its long-time plan with regard to Kashmir. The Indian action was, therefore, being anticipated.

Before revoking Article 370, Delhi deployed tens of thousands of additional troops to counter protests, key Kashmiri political leaders were put under house arrest, tourists were evacuated, Amarnath Yatra was cancelled and internet services in Kashmir were suspended.

The FO asserted that the Indian move on Kashmir would not alter its disputed reality.

“No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Nor will this ever be acceptable to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan,” the statement added.

It is feared that the Indian action could further complicate the dispute that has been on United Nations agenda for over 70 years and one on which Security Council resolutions have remained unimplemented. India’s other motives behind the move are to change the demography of the Muslim-dominated region and consolidate control over the occupied region.

Tensions between India and Pakistan are set to aggravate after the latest development, especially if they lead to intensification of the uprising in Kashmir. India despite maintaining around 700,000 troops in the nearly 38,700-square-mile valley and committing some of the worst human rights abuses there has not been able suppress Kashmiris’ quest for freedom from the illegal occupation. The movement has instead gained added momentum since the killing of Burhan Wani by the Indian troops in 2016.

Pakistan’s worries about the latest Indian move undermining region’s peace were articulated by Prime Minister Imran Khan in his conversations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad.

Talking to Mr Erdogan, PM Khan said India’s illegal actions to modify the special status of the India-held Kashmir would have serious implications for regional peace and security.

President Erdogan, according to the PM Office, shared his concerns over the developing situation in India-held Kashmir and assured of Turkey’s steadfast support in this regard.

Meanwhile, in his telephonic conversation with Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir, Mr Khan said the Indian move may “deteriorate the peace and security of the region and would further undermine the relations between the two neighbours with strategic capabilities.”

Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria was summoned to Foreign Office to receive a protest over revocation of Article 370.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions, saying they are in breach of international law and multiple UN Security Council resolutions, according to an FO statement.

“The Foreign 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,” the FO said.

A meeting of the corps commanders – the top military brass – has been convened to deliberate on the situation on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2019