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Pakistan reacts to Article 370 abrogation by downgrading diplomatic ties with India, suspending bilateral trade, partially shutting airspace

  • Pakistan on Wednesday downgraded diplomatic relations with India and suspended bilateral trade

  • The move came in the wake of New Delhi's 'unilateral and illegal' move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir

  • A Pakistani statement said that the country will observe this Independence Day on 14 August in solidarity with Kashmiris and observe 15 August as black day

Pakistan on Wednesday decided to take several steps against India — including downgrading of diplomatic relations and suspension of bilateral trade — to lodge its protest against New Delhi's move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status. Islamabad also announced that its airspace would be partially closed to India, for a month.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan chaired a crucial meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) in Islamabad which was attended by the top civil and military leadership. After the meeting, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that they will send India's High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria back to India.

Meanwhile, Moin-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s newly appointed ambassador to India who has yet to take up his post, will now not move to New Delhi, Islamabad's statement was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“It is very obvious that our ambassador won't be in Delhi, and obviously the man who is here will also leave,” Qureshi said in a telephone interview with Pakistani TV channel ARY News.

Reportedly, Pakistan's airspace will also be closed everyday except Sundays from 6 August to 5 September between 2.45 am and 11 am (local time).

The Indian government on Monday revoked Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

A statement issued after the NSC meeting read that the committee discussed the situation "arising out of unilateral and illegal actions" by the Indian government, the situation inside Jammu and Kashmir and along the Line of Control.

The committee decided on "downgrading of diplomatic relations with India" and "suspension of bilateral trade with India," the statement said.

 Pakistan reacts to Article 370 abrogation by downgrading diplomatic ties with India, suspending bilateral trade, partially shutting airspace

File image of Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. PTI

The NSC also decided to review "bilateral arrangements" with India.

The committee resolved to take the matter (abolition of the Article 370 by India) to the United Nations, including the Security Council, the statement said.

India has said Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and the issue was strictly internal to the country.

The Pakistani statement said that the country will observe this Independence Day on 14 August in solidarity with Kashmiris. "15 August will be observed as black day," it added.

Khan also directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to highlight the alleged human rights violations in the Valley.

He also directed the military to continue vigilance, according to the statement.

The foreign minister, defense minister, interior minister, advisor on finance, Kashmir affairs minister as well as Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman, three services chiefs, ISI chief, and other top officials attended the meeting.

The NSC met after the meeting of top military generals and and a rare joint session of parliament on the Kashmir issue on Tuesday. It was the second meeting of Pakistan's top decision-making body this week. On Sunday, Khan convened the NSC meeting to discuss issues pertaining to national security in the wake of developments in the region.

Reacting to Pakistan's move, TCA Raghavan, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan said, "Trade between India and Pakistan unfortunately has never been of a large volume. The steps they have taken are to show their political constituencies that they are dealing with the matter. In any case, not having diplomatic contacts is not a good development."

Senior Congress leader and former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid called Pakistan's decision "very short-sighted". "In these times it is important to maintain bilateral ties and the decision (of Pakistan) is very short-sighted, and it is not going to make any difference to India," Khurshid told reporters.

BJP national general-secretary Ram Madhav downplayed Pakistan's action and said that no other country had a locus standi on the issue.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited Shopian, where he interacted with the locals. Several restrictions are in place in Jammu and Kashmir, which the Centre imposed as a "precautionary" measure.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack by Pakistan-based terrorists on the air force base at Pathankot in January 2016, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

Earlier in 2019, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on 26 February.

The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an Indian pilot, who was handed over to India on 1 March.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Aug 08, 2019 08:04:38 IST