By Arab News
By Sib Kaifee
Pakistan has accused India of moving from “occupation to annexation” over its revocation of Kashmir’s special status.
And with the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir still in lockdown following New Delhi’s move to scrap its autonomous standing, Islamabad demanded a plebiscite for Kashmiris on the issue.
As tensions continued to rise, Pakistan on Thursday suspended its Friendship Express train service to India, a day after it downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, and suspended trade with its eastern neighbor.
Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman, Dr. Mohammad Faisal, told Arab News that although Pakistan had never accepted the now scrapped Article 370 of India’s constitution, it acknowledged that it had theoretically provided special status to Indian-run Kashmir.
However, he described the article’s repeal by the Indian government as a step from “occupation to annexation” and an attempt to turn the globally recognized disputed territory into a province, in violation of international law and UN Security Council Resolution 47 (adopted in 1948, concerning the Kashmir conflict).
Bilateral dialogue between Pakistan and India has remained suspended since the first term in office of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the years, but India’s latest move puts regional peace at stake.
Faisal said there was now uncertainty as to whether Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan would participate in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly next month.
“At this point nobody knows whether he will go because the situation may deteriorate to such a level where he may not be able to leave the country. The foreign minister had to come back from Hajj as well. At this point, we don’t know what will happen next week.”
The spokesman added: “India has stationed 900,000 troops; one soldier is deployed at every household (in Kashmir) – what is this? If India says it is doing this for the betterment of the people, then it should hold a plebiscite instead.”
Foreign policy expert, Dr. Zafar Jaspal, told Arab News that Pakistan had a number of options at its disposal. “We can extend our political and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brothers and deepen our relationship with China, as it’s also a part of this conflict. Pakistan can also take its case to the UN.”
On the issue of Pakistan providing consular access to convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, Jaspal said it would not be favorable for Pakistan’s campaign against India to disrupt the process and that Islamabad “should continue to act as a responsible state.”