ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Thursday rejected bifurcation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, saying Indian action was illegal and void.

The statements from Islamabad and Beijing came as India put into effect the bifurcation of occupied Kashmir into Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and the lieutenant governors for the new territories took the oath of office in Srinagar and Leh.

The division has been done under “The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019” that was introduced in Indian parliament simultaneously with the abolition of Article 370 through a presidential order on Aug 5. The legislation splitting held Kashmir into two new UTs received Indian president’s assent on Aug 9, after both houses of Indian parliament passed it. It, however, took effect from Oct 31.

Term Indian action illegal and void; Islamabad says move violates UN Security Council’s resolutions, bilateral agreements

Pakistan’s Foreign Office in its reaction said the bifurcation of the occupied region did not alter its disputed status as it had been split in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements, including Shimla accord.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Indian action was “not effective in any way”.

Both Pakistan and China had in August rejected the annulment of Article 370 and the announcement to divide the occupied region.

The FO in its statement on the latest development said that “Pakistan rejects the bifurcation of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories” as occupied valley was an internationally recognised disputed territory. “No step by the government of India can change this. These changes are illegal and void as per the relevant UNSC resolutions, and do not prejudice the right to self-determination of the people of occupied Jammu & Kashmir,” it further said.

The FO noted that the measures announced by the Indian government on Aug 5 regarding the revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir had been imposed on the Kashmiris through “the barrel of gun”.

It recalled that India had reinforced its troops deployment in the world’s most militarised zone, taking their numbers to over 900,000 and imposed a lockdown on the occupied valley with curfews, communication blockade and arrests of thousands of political leaders and civil society members to suppress opposition to its actions by the local population.

Most of those restrictions remain in place despite passage of nearly three months.

“An iron curtain remains in place on more than eight million Kashmiri people, snapping their communications with the outside world. Curfew remains imposed and movement of people restricted. Many people, especially women and children, are being continuously abused and tortured by Indian occupation forces,” the FO said.

Rejecting Indian contention that Kashmir-related moves were its internal matter, the FO said that “the illegal and unilateral changes effected by India are in no way an internal matter as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the agenda of the Security Council”. It said the intention behind the India’s Kashmir-related moves was neither development of the region nor welfare of the Kashmiri people; rather they were for altering the demographic structure of the Muslim majority region in pursuance of the extremist “Hindutva” ideology.

The FO urged the world to take note of the transfer of civilian population from outside into the occupied valley in “grave” violation of the international laws, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. Pakistan, it reaffirmed, would continue to extend its full moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmir cause until the realisation of the inalienable right to self-determination, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in a news briefing in Beijing, said the newly established Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh included some of the Chinese territory. “China deplores and firmly opposes this. India is challenging China’s sovereign rights and interests by unilaterally revising domestic law and administrative division. This is illegal, null and void. It will neither change the fact that the relevant region is under China’s actual control nor produce any effect,” he added.

He said China was urging India to respect the former’s territorial sovereignty, abide by bilateral agreements and safeguard peace and tranquility in the border region with concrete actions to create conditions for a proper settlement of the border issue with China.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2019