Pakistan downgrades diplomatic ties, suspend trade with India: Qureshi

ISLAMABAD:Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi Wednesday said the National Security Committee (NSC) had decided to downgrade Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with India and also suspend trade between the two countries.

Speaking at the joint sitting of the Parliament, he said the NSC in its meeting Wednesday took five important decisions.

Pakistan, he said, would review bilateral agreements with India and take a decision on them.

As India did not agree to bilateral talks and discussion on the Kashmir issue at multilateral forums, damaged the spirit of Shimla agreement, and crossed the set limits, Pakistan had decided to approach the United Nations Security Council, he added.

Qureshi said August 14 – Pakistan’s Independence Day – would be observed to express solidarity with the Kashmiris and the slogan of “Kashmir benega Pakistan” would be raised all across the country.

While India’s independence day of August 15 would be observed as a black day, he added.

He feared that Kashmiris would continue to face reprisals and atrocities by India.

The NSC meeting was held to take a unanimous decision on the Kashmir issue and convey it to the world, he added.

Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan had constituted a high powered committee for consultation to take legal and diplomatic decisions to counter the Indian move of changing the special status of Kashmir.

He said the debate in the joint session of the Parliament reflected the thinking of parliamentarians on Kashmir.

Pakistan, he said, condemned India’s decision to end the special status of Kashmir. The Modi government had further complicated the issue of Kashmir for the Kashmiris and the international community, he added.

The foreign minister said he was in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj but when he felt that the whole nation was disturbed due to prevailing situation in held Kashmir he decided to return to express solidarity with the Kashmiris.

He said he wanted to send a message to the Kashmiris across the Line of Control that all the Pakistani people and the Parliament had unanimity of views on the issue.

India, he said, had always made an effort to suppress the Kashmir issue by making different excuses and by saying that it was a bilateral issue. However, it had now made Kashmir an international issue as even people in India were saying that history would tell that Modi had made a big mistake and took a non-democratic step of abrogating the article which would dent the country’s federal structure, he added.

Qureshi said Kashmiris like Mehbooba Mufti and Umer Abdullah were now saying that their elders might have made a mistake by siding with India.

He said the leaders of Hurriyat Conference like Ali Gilani, Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik had a clear stance but now other leaders were also against India’s decision.

He called on India to remove its 900,000 troops from the Kashmir region and see how the Kashmiris react to its decision of revoking articles 370 and 35A of the constitution.

A legal battle had started in the Supreme Court of India, he said, adding Muslims in India were looking towards the Parliament of Pakistan.

He appreciated the opposition for showing unity on the occasion when India was using brute force against the Kashmiris and dropping cluster bombs on unarmed civilian population.

Qureshi said the opposition in the Indian Parliament protested against the way the bill was introduced to revoke Article 370.

He said Pakistan had conveyed its concerns to the United Nations Secretary General on Indian violations of the Line of Control (LoC) and human rights abuses in held Kashmir.

“I conveyed my concerns to the UN Secretary General and asked him to intervene in the matter by writing a letter to him,” he added. The letter was circulated among the members of the United Nations.

He said the ambassadors of P5 countries were summoned to the Foreign Office and Pakistan’s concerns were conveyed to them.

He said after the Indian decision of August 5, the joint session of Parliament was called on August 6 to send a message to the Kashmiris that Pakistan would continue to extend moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiris.