Pakistani Kashmiri lawyers shout slogans beside a burning effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, on August 7, 2019. (Sajjad Qayyum/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan Condemns ‘Illegal’ Changes to Status of Jammu and Kashmir

India imposes curfew in disputed region as parliament approves direct rule

[Islamabad] Pakistan strongly rejected New Delhi moves to cancel Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and to impose direct rule on the disputed area.

The Indian Parliament on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Bill 2019, which sought to divide the land into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, both to be directly governed by New Delhi.

Indian Home Minister Shah, while presenting the resolution in parliament to divide Jammu and Kashmir state, said that its special status under the constitution had been removed by a presidential order that would come into force “at once,” thus making all the provisions of the Indian constitution applicable to the region.

Shah added that the measures would ensure that Jammu and Kashmir remained an integral part of India forever.

After Article 370 was revoked, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that no unilateral step could change the disputed status of the area, as enshrined in United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Qureshi added that according to a Security Council resolution passed January 10, 1949, and formally agreed upon at a meeting of the UN Commission for India and Pakistan, Jammu-Kashmir was declared a disputed state. UN Security Council-designated disputes must be resolved as per the body’s rules and regulations, he said.

Pakistan Federal Law and Justice Minister Farogh Naseem told The Media Line that the “Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir would be considered illegal until a plebiscite was held there as per UN Security Council resolutions.” The international community needed to play its proper role against “the Indian move regarding occupied Kashmir,” the minister added.

Under Article 370, the state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed complete autonomy and the legislature was free to draft laws except in the areas of communications, defense, finance and foreign affairs. As a result, Indian citizens from other states could not purchase property in Jammu and Kashmir.

A meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. According to Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal, attendees discussed the recent “illegal developments.”  Foreign Minister Qureshi was to lead the Pakistani delegation.

In Pakistan, President Arif Alvi summoned a joint session of parliament to discuss the deteriorating situation in Indian-administered Kashmir and “Indian aggression” along the Line of Control. Prime Minister Imran Khan was present at the session.

Prime Minister Khan called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of outreach to world leaders, official sources said. Erdogan shared the concerns on the situation and assured Khan of Turkey’s “steadfast support” in this regard, the sources added.

Khan also called his Malaysian counterpart, Mahathir Mohamad. Khan termed India’s move to revoke Article 370 illegal and said that it would destroy regional peace and stability.

In July, Khan visited the United States, where President Donald Trump offered to mediate between Pakistan and India to resolve the dispute. Islamabad welcomed the offer but it was rejected by New Delhi.

Meanwhile, the UN has expressed concern over the Indian government’s revocation of Kashmir’s special status.

A spokesman said that the secretary-general had all along maintained that India and Pakistan should resolve all their disputes through dialogue.

The United States has called for “peace and stability” along the Line of Control that separates Pakistan and India in the Kashmir region.

Morgan Ortagus, a spokeswoman for the Department of State, said that the US was “concerned” following events in Kashmir and was watching developments “closely.”

Following the revocation of Article 370, about 10,000 Indian paramilitary troops were deployed in the Kashmir Valley and a strict curfew was imposed throughout Jammu-Kashmir.

According to reports, security forces continued to impose a curfew and other restrictions on Tuesday. All educational institutions were closed in the region and internet services were suspended. A majority of newspapers could not be published.

Rahul Gandhi, a member of the Indian Parliament for the opposition and a grandson of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi, tweeted that “National integration isn’t furthered by unilaterally tearing apart J&K, imprisoning elected representatives and violating our Constitution. This nation is made by its people, not plots of land. This abuse of executive power has grave implications for our national security.”

According to The Press Trust of India news agency, former Chief Ministers of Jammu-Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti and Umar Abdullah were arrested on Monday. Two other prominent politicians, Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari, were also arrested by Indian paramilitary forces after the revocation of Article 370.

Former Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told The Media Line that the way in which the Indian government revoked Article 370 violated parliamentary norms.

The entire separatist leadership, including Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, continued to remain under house arrest or in prison.

In a punitive move, Pakistan expelled India’s ambassador, effectively downgrading bilateral ties, and announced plans to close its airspace to all Indian flights.

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