ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AFP) – Pakistan on Monday condemned India’s move to abolish Kashmir’s special status as “illegal,” insisting it was an internationally recognized disputed territory.
The decision by New Delhi to strip Kashmir of the special autonomy it has enjoyed for seven decades also prompted small protests across Pakistan, which administers part of the Himalayan region.
“No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status … As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947.
For three decades the Indian-administered part — the country’s only Muslim-majority state — has been in the grip of an insurgency that has left tens of thousands dead.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry added that the move, which Islamabad “strongly rejects and condemns”, will not “ever be acceptable to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan”.
“Pakistan reaffirms its abiding commitment to the Kashmir cause and its political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir for realization of their inalienable right to self-determination,” the statement said.
Pakistan’s foreign office has summoned the Indian high commissioner to protest the move, the Pakistani high commission to New Delhi said late Monday.
Neither Prime Minister Imran Khan nor Pakistan’s powerful military establishment issued any statements directly condemning the move.
But the prime minister’s office said Khan had called both Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to warn that the decision could have “serious implications” for regional security and “was in clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions.
Erdogan “shared the concerns” and assured Khan of Turkey’s support, the statement said, while Mohamad, one of the world’s Muslim elder statesmen, said Malaysia was “closely monitoring” the situation.
A senior government source in Delhi told AFP that the decision “has no external implications”, however, adding that it “is our business”.
Hundreds of people in the Pakistani city of Lahore also gathered to protest the decision, with other small protests took place in Islamabad and on some university campuses
Larger demonstrations are expected Tuesday, when Pakistan will hold a joint parliamentary session and its top military commanders will meet to discuss the move.
India’s decision also prompted condemnation on Pakistani Twitter, where at one point the top six trending hashtags all related to the move.
Pakistan’s human rights minister Shireen Mazari branded the step “illegal annexation” in a tweet.
© Agence France-Presse