FM retracts his ‘India’s internal matter’ remarks

Published May 11, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday made it clear that nothing about Jammu and Kashmir could be India’s internal matter. — AP/File
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday made it clear that nothing about Jammu and Kashmir could be India’s internal matter. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Two days after his remarks about abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution drew opposition’s ire, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday made it clear that nothing about Jammu and Kashmir could be India’s internal matter.

“Let me be clear: Jammu & Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute on the @UN Security Council agenda. Final settlement of the dispute lies in #UNSC resolution calling for free and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices,” the foreign minister said in a tweet.

In his controversial remarks during an interview with a private TV channel, Mr Qureshi surprised many by saying that abrogation of Article 370 is India’s internal matter. According to a video clip of the interview that did the rounds on social media, Mr Qureshi is heard saying that revocation of Article 370 is an “internal matter of India and it meant nothing for Pakistan”.

He also pointed out that the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India.

Qureshi says Jammu & Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute

Moreover, he claimed that a huge section in India was of the belief that this move did not prove to be beneficial for India. The foreign minister also stressed that all outstanding issues could be settled only through dialogue as war will be “suicidal”.

“In my view, Article 370 is not important,” Mr Qureshi said. When asked what is important for Pakistan, he said: “Article 35A. Article 35A, incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the President in 1954, allowed the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define permanent residents of the state, their special rights and privileges.”

The remarks that came amid talks of backchannel contacts between Pakistan and India were seen by the opposition as a clear departure from the consistent stance adopted by Pakistan that there could not be normalisation of relations until India restored Article 370.

“How is the FM calling Article 370 of Indian Constitution an internal matter of India? Pakistan does not recognise it, but nothing to do with Kashmir is an internal matter of India. Modi’s attempt at annexing illegally occupied J&K is unacceptable to Pakistan. It is a DISPUTED territory as per UN Resolutions,” PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said in a series of tweets on Monday.

She said this kind of confusion must be clarified in parliament.

“Back channels are not for making decisions; they are for seeking strategic clarity in conflict. From what we can see PTI govt is either confused or complicit in some deal,” she remarked.

She said that self-determination was an inalienable right of Kashmiris and revocation of 35-A which now allowed for demographic change in IIOJK flo­w­ed from 370 in the Indian Constitution. “....if you object to one change you object to the other; both situations are totally unacceptable to the people of Kashmir and Pakistan. Terms for peace must be fair,” Ms Rehman noted.

PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair also criticised the foreign minister for his remarks.

“Is this not a historical U-turn? FM Shah Mahmood says Pakistan has no issue with India’s decision to do away with article 370. Shah Mahmood says this is India’s internal matter. This means Pakistan has agreed to give up its historical stance that Kashmir is a disputed territory,” he tweeted.

The former Sindh governor explained that by revoking Article 370, India had made occupied Kashmir a part of its Union Territory, wondering that if Pakistan accepted it as such, then what happened to its decades-old stance?

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021

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