On Monday, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind signed a decree effectively abolishing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state, which forms the part of Kashmir administered by India. Among other changes, this will allow people from the rest of India to settle and own property there. Pakistan, which considers the whole of Kashmir its territory, hotly contested India’s move.
Stripping Kashmir of its autonomy will never “be acceptable” to Islamabad and the people of Kashmir, the Foreign Ministry said.
As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps.
Several senior Pakistani politicians and officials voiced similar sentiments. The special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on information and broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan, said that scrapping Kashmiri autonomy violates international law and Pakistan will continue to provide “diplomatic, moral and political support” to the region.
The idea to revoke the self-governing status of the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir has been pushed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is widely seen as promoting Hindu-centric policies.
BJP’s National General Secretary, Ram Madhav, praised the end of autonomy, saying it will allow for “complete integration of J&K into Indian Union.”
Longstanding rivals India and Pakistan nearly got into a full-blown war in February. New Delhi dispatched fighter jets into Pakistan to strike what it said were camps of insurgent group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which previously carried out attacks on Indian soil. Islamabad accused India of violating its sovereignty.
The standoff then quickly escalated into cross-border shelling and open aerial combat, during which an Indian pilot was shot down and captured, but later returned by Pakistan to India unharmed.
The neighbors subsequently made several friendly gestures. In May, PM Khan congratulated Modi on winning the parliamentary election, and later they spoke by phone. Both leaders vowed to work together to peacefully resolve the conflict. Nevertheless, instances of sporadic violence persisted along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, with reports of casualties on both sides of the border.