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PM forms team to explore response over Kashmir issue

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Srinagar: An Indian soldier placing barbed wire across a street during curfew on Tuesday.—AFP
Srinagar: An Indian soldier placing barbed wire across a street during curfew on Tuesday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday constituted a high-powered seven-member team to explore legal, political and diplomatic response to be given to India over its latest actions regarding occupied Kashmir, including a fresh spate of aggression.

The committee is a combination of civil-military representatives and significantly includes the chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) as its members.

A notification issued by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) said: “The prime minister has been pleased to constitute, with immediate effect, a seven-member team who shall make recommendations to formulate the legal/political/diplomatic response on the latest developments related to Indian occupied Kashmir.”

The team includes Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the attorney general for Pakistan, the foreign secretary, director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Ahmer Bilal Sufi.

A member of the committee, who did not want to be named, told Dawn that the team would explore all options to counter India’s fresh aggression in occupied Kashmir and submit its recommendations to the government for further action.

Pakistan on Monday rejected the Indian government’s move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution which had accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan vowed to exercise “all possible options” to counter India’s “illegal” and “unilateral” step.

Not only Pakistan but the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey, Malaysia and China also condemned Indian aggression on Kashmiris and feared that the scrapping of Article 370 would intensify threat of war in South Asia.

Meanwhile, the opposition has criticised the forming of the committee and accused the government of not doing any ‘homework’ to counter the situation arising after scrapping of Article 370.

Ahsan Iqbal of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said in a private TV talk show that the Indian government’s designs had been exposed two weeks ago on social media, but Islamabad had not done any homework on it. “Today, the prime minister has formed a committee to decide what to do on the latest situation on Kashmir,” he added.

Mr Iqbal said that the government had no capability to handle the situation as the prime minister had neither sensitised friends of Pakistan on the issue and nor had called upon the United Nations to convene a session of the Security Council on it. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has so far not made any contact with Chinese president, royal family of Saudi Arabia and members of UN Security Council.”

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2019