Pakistan has announced it will downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with India after New Delhi stripped the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office said in a statement Wednesday that Islamabad would also review bilateral agreements with India and take the issue up with the United Nations and the UN Security Council.
On Tuesday, India’s parliament voted to reclassify the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory, giving the government in New Delhi greater authority over the contested Muslim-majority region, which is also claimed by Pakistan.
The day before, the Indian government announced it was revoking a provision in the constitution which had granted special status and powers to the state.
Pakistan’s military had previously warned it would “go to any extent” to fight the changes, the country’s chief of army staff said Tuesday.
Indian-controlled Kashmir remains in lockdown amid a communications blackout, with landline connections, internet and mobile coverage all suspended. Tens of thousands of additional Indian troops have also been deployed into the already heavily militarized region to head off unrest.
The scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian constitution will also allow non-residents to purchase property in the valley, and apply for jobs or scholarships that had previously been reserved for the state’s residents — a move experts fear could lead to a demographic change in Hindu-dominated India’s only Muslim-majority state.
The remote mountainous region of Ladakh, currently part of Jammu and Kashmir, will also be separated and turned into a standalone union territory, the government said.
Article 370: How India's special status for Kashmir works
Article 370: How India’s special status for Kashmir works
Relations between the nuclear powers of India and Pakistan have been strained since February, when Pakistan reportedly shot down two Indian fighter jets over Kashmir and captured one of the pilots. India said it had retaliated by shooting down a Pakistani jet, which fell on the Pakistan side of the border.
Pakistan released the captive pilot in March and the situation calmed — but India’s Kashmir vote has inflamed tensions again.
On Tuesday, Khan accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party of believing “that Muslims should be ethnically cleansed in India.”
“If the world does not act now, if the so-called developed world does not uphold its own laws, then things will go to a place that will damage the whole world,” said Khan.