Pakistan partially closes airspace, expels Indian envoy in retaliation to Kashmir policy

Pakistan expels Indian envoy, to suspend trade with India
Indian PM Narendra Modi and Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan. File photo
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Islamabad: The abrogation of Article 370 and reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir by the Narendra Modi led Indian government have led to the worsening of India-Pak ties. The bilateral ties between the two neighbours had been only recuperating after the Pulwama attack which killed 40 CRPF men and the Balakot strikes which followed.

In a move to downgrade diplomatic relations, Pakistan's top civil and military leadership on Wednesday decided to expel the Indian High Commissioner and suspend bilateral trade with India in the wake of New Delhi's move of revoking special status for Jammu and Kashmir.

The decision was taken at a second session of National Security Committee (NSC) within a week presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan to review the situation following the Indian government's move on Kashmir.

"Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told ARY News.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, the NSC decided to downgrade diplomatic relations, suspend bilateral trade with India, review of bilateral arrangements, take the matter to the UN and observe Pakistan's Independence Day on August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris.

"The Prime Minister directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to expose brutal Indian racist regime, design and human rights violations," said the statement issued after the meeting.

The meeting was attended by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Hayat, Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, ISI Director-General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and other officials.

"Independence Day this August 14 to be observed in solidarity with brave Kashmiris and their just struggle for their right of self-determination," the statement read. "August 15 will be observed as Black Day," it added.

On Tuesday, Imran Khan, addressing a joint session of the National Assembly, had said that Pulwama-like attacks can follow the revocation of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir, which can lead to a war between India and Pakistan.

"I can already predict this will happen. They will attempt to place the blame on us again. They may strike us again, and we will strike back," the cricketer-turned-politician told his country's Parliament.

Slamming the repeal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Khan had called on the world to raise its voice "for the people of Indian-Administered Kashmir".

The last NSC meeting was held on August 4 to discuss India's "use of cluster ammunition to target the civilian population on the Pakistani side of Kashmir".

Pakistan partially closes airspace

Pakistan has partially closed its airspace amid growing tensions with India over the abrogation of Article 370.

However, according to national carrier Air India, its west bound operations will not be impacted much by Pakistan's decision to partially close its airspace.

"One air corridor has been closed requiring a maximum of 12 minutes diversion. Not really affecting us," the flag carrier said.

Only last month, Pakistan had fully opened its airspace which was closed following the Balakot air strikes in February.

(With inputs from IANS.)

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