Pakistan snaps, cuts ties

Islamabad: The revocation of the special status of Kashmir recoiled on India-Pakistan relations on Wednesday with Islamabad downgrading its diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelling its High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, in protest against New Delhi's "unilateral and illegal" move.

The decision was announced after Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a crucial meeting of the National Security Committee, attended by top civil and military leadership, during which it was also decided to suspend bilateral trade and review "bilateral arrangements".

"Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in televised comments soon after the NSC meeting.

Islamabad, which is pressing for international intervention on Kashmir, also said it would appeal to the United Nation's Security Council against the government's Kashmir decisions.

A spoke-sperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, however, declined to comment on claims that scrapping of the special status is in violation of the Security Council resolutions, reiterating only that the UN chief is following the developments in the region with concern.

Prime Minister Khan also directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to highlight the alleged human rights violations in the Valley. The Pakistani statement further said that the country will observe this Independence Day on August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris. "August 15 will be observed as Black Day," it added.

On Tuesday, Imran Khan had spoken of retaliation. "They (India) will do something in PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir)... we will retaliate... Will fight till last drop of blood," he had said at a joint sitting of Pakistan's Parliament.

Besides Pakistan, its strategic ally China has also opposed the government's move to end special status for Kashmir through a presidential order.  Warning that India should avoid "unilaterally" changing the status quo in Kashmir, China also expressed opposition to naming Ladakh a separate Union Territory.

India shrugged off the Chinese statement saying it does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and expects other countries to do likewise.

By Sajjad Hussain

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