KASHMIR … Pakistan downgrades diplomatic ties with India, suspends trade; security chiefs meet

NEW DELHI: Virtually snapping diplomatic ties with India, the Islamic State of Pakistan on Wednesday expelled the Indian High Commissioner and suspended bilateral trade – in protest against the changes that the Indian government made in the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan claims the state of Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory – and so does India about the other side of Pakistan where a part of Kashmir lies.

Delhi had, in a swift move, revoked the special or autonomous status for Jammu and Kashmir and downgraded it from the status of a state to the level of a Union Territory through parliamentary legislation passed in the past two days in what is seen a resolute move by the Narendra Modi government to stem the rot in terrorist-militant infested Kashmir Valley in specific. Srinagar and parts of Kashmir are under curfew for the past few days, and communications systems have been disabled, while some top leaders suspectedly siding with militants have been put under house arrest.

“We will call back our envoy from Delhi and send back their envoy here,” announced Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a declaration telecast live by the Pakistani media. The announcement came after the National Security Committee held a meeting chaired by PM Khan.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said the actions by New Delhi in Jammu and Kashmir could result in a repeat of Pulwama-like terror attacks and could even lead to war. Scores of CRPF jawans had been killed in a terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy which, as terror outfit Jaish claimed, was masterminded from Pakistani soil, apparently with the notorious military intelligence service, the ISI. ISI’s professed aim is to “bleed India with a thousand cuts.”

Pakistan has also said it would take the Kashmir issue yet again to the UN for a just settlement of the long-standing dispute. India’s stand is issues could be discussed bilaterally but no third party mediation was warranted or welcome. IHN-NN

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