Pakistan on Monday said that it would “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India regarding Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).
The comments came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced plans to weaken the special rights of residents in occupied Kashmir, amid heavy deployment of security forces and suspension of phone and internet services in the valley.
In a press release, the Foreign Office (FO) strongly condemned and rejected the move by the Indian government, stressing that IoK was internationally recognised as a disputed territory.
“No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” read the statement. “The decision will never be acceptable to the people of IoK and Pakistan.”
“As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” the statement read while reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to the Kashmiri cause.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood summoned the Indian high commissioner to the FO and handed him a strong demarche on the Indian government’s actions regarding IoK.
“The foreign secretary conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions as they are in breach of international law and several UN Security Council resolutions,” a second FO statement said, adding that he also underscored Pakistan’s condemnation of the actions aimed at “further consolidating the illegal occupation” of IoK.
Mahmood also condemned other measures taken by Indian authorities to suppress the Kashmiri people, including the imposition of a curfew, deployment of tens of thousands of additional troops, house arrest of Kashmiri leaders and suspension of communication services.
The secretary “called upon India to halt and reverse its unlawful and destabilising actions, ensure full compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, and refrain from any further action that could entail serious implications”, according to the FO handout.
He reiterated that Pakistan will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to the indigenous Kashmiri people’s struggle for the realisation of their right to self-determination.
A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of Kashmir was also held at Parliament House today.
The meeting, chaired by committee chairman Syed Fakhar Imam, discussed the situation in IoK and the use of cluster bombs on civilians by Indian forces.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that if the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of India felt that their policies were effective, they would not have imposed governor’s rule or conducted politics through presidential orders.
“If they have turned IoK and Ladhak into union territories, it is evident that they have lost hope […] Kashmiris that used to support them earlier are also in jail or under house arrest.
“Today, India has once again revived and internationalised the Kashmir issue. This will not solve the problem, rather it will escalate it,” he warned.
Qureshi said that the entire international community needed to condemn the Indian move.
Opposition leaders on Monday called for a joint session of parliament to be scheduled in light of the developments.
In a post shared on Twitter, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: “Atrocities in IoK unabated. Extremist Indian government’s intentions clear. President must immediately summon joint session of parliament in wake of Indian aggression in IoK.”
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the Indian government’s “attempt to revoke Article 370” as he called for a joint session of parliament. He said that after reviewing the situation, a comprehensive strategy should be formulated.
The PML-N president added that Pakistan should also immediately call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
“This is a matter of Pakistan’s national interest, all of Pakistan is united. The time has come for Pakistan’s political and military leadership to take collective decisions — Pakistan is united for the Kashmiri cause,” he said.