Kashmir: Pakistan downgrades diplomatic ties, suspends trade with India

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By Muhammad Luqma

Pakistan has announced to downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with India after New Delhi revoked article 370 of Indian constitution, annexing the disputed Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir with India.

In a statement issued after the National Security Committee in the capital Islamabad, it was announced that Islamabad would also review bilateral agreements with India and take the issue up with the United Nations and the UN Security Council.

The statement added that Pakistan’s independence day on August 14 would be dedicated to “brave Kashmiris and their struggle for their right of self-determination.”

The NSC meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was held at the Prime Minister’s Office and attended by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Interior Minister Brig (Retd) Ijaz Shah, Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Minister for KA&GB Ali Amin Gandapur, Law Minister Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem, Adviser on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Hayat, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, ISI Director-General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, ISPR Director General, and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan, secretary Foreign Affairs and other senior officers, PM Office media wing in a press release said.

In addition to ending bilateral trade, which has been valued at several billion dollars annually, Pakistani officials said the government might close the country’s airspace to Indian aircraft and recall its top diplomat in India. The statement said all bilateral agreements would also be reviewed.

In a speech in the Pakistani Parliament before the measures were announced, Fawad Chaudhry, the science and technology minister, called India a “fascist regime” and said another war over Kashmir, where decades of fighting has killed tens of thousands of people, was not off the table.

“Pakistan should not let Kashmir become another Palestine,” Mr. Chaudhry said. “We have to choose between dishonor and war.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Wednesday evening summoned Deputy High Commissioner of India and formally conveyed the decision of asking the High Commission Ajay Basaria leave Islamabad.

Pakistan has also decided not to send its new High Commissioner to India, Mueenul Haq who was scheduled to assume the charge on August 16.

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