Pakistan downgrades ties with India as Kashmir row deepens
August 07 2019 05:40 PM
Indian policemen stand guard in a deserted street during restrictions in Jammu
Indian policemen stand guard in a deserted street during restrictions in Jammu

AFP/Islamabad

Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with India on Wednesday, announcing that it will expel the Indian envoy and suspend trade in a deepening row over New Delhi's move to tighten its grip on Kashmir.

New Delhi stripped the Himalayan region of its seven-decade-long semi-autonomous status Monday through a presidential decree, just hours after it imposed a curfew on the valley.

Delhi has insisted that the move is an internal matter.

But Islamabad has called for the international community to intervene and vowed to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

"We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their" envoy, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced in televised comments on Wednesday.

He spoke as the government released a statement declaring that Pakistan will suspend trade with India and review its bilateral ties with New Delhi.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan today chaired meeting of the National Security Committee" to discuss the "unilateral and illegal actions by the Indian government" in Kashmir, the statement said.

"The committee decided to take following actions: 1. Downgrading of diplomatic relations with India. 2. Suspension of bilateral trade with India. 3. Review of bilateral arrangements. 4. Matter to be taken to the United Nations, including the Security Council," it added.

Khan "directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to expose brutal Indian racist regime, design and human rights violations," the statement added.

He also called on the military to continue its "vigilance".

Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan and India since independence in 1947.

They have contesting claims on the Himalayan region, and have fought two of their three wars over it.

Earlier this year they came to the brink of war once more, after a deadly attack in Indian-held Kashmir was claimed by a militant group based in Pakistan, prompting tit-for-tat airstrikes over the mountainous region.

The Pakistani military said on Tuesday that it "firmly stands" with Kashmiris.

Long a semi-autonomous state where only local residents could buy land or take government jobs, Kashmir's new status is as a territory directly ruled by New Delhi.

Its summer capital Srinagar appeared a ghost town on Wednesday as the security lockdown took hold, with armed soldiers on corners and in front of barbed wire barricades among the few people to be seen in the streets.

Last updated: August 07 2019 11:28 PM


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