NEW DELHI – Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with India as a retaliatory measure to New Delhi revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was done to spread alarm, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said Thursday.
“The intention behind these measures (to downgrade diplomatic relations) is obviously to present an alarming picture to the world of our bilateral ties,” the Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
“The Government of India regrets the steps announced by Pakistan yesterday and would urge that country to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved,” the ministry further said.
On Wednesday, during Pakistan’s National Security Committee meeting presided by Prime Minister Imran Khan, it was decided that “all diplomatic channels be activated to expose brutal Indian racist regime.”
Among the measures, “downgrading of diplomatic relations and suspension of bilateral trade,” was also announced.
Khan further ordered the “Pakistani Armed Forces to continue vigilance,” and is set to take the Indian government’s decision to the United Nations.
Islamabad is against New Delhi’s move over Article 370 of the Indian constitution which granted a special status to the contested region.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization bill, which was passed in the Indian parliament will now make the region a centrally-ruled union territory.
“The recent developments pertaining to Article 370 are entirely the internal affair of India. The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter,” the ministry statement said.
It further added that “seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed.
The Indian government’s decision sought to provide, “opportunities for development,” which were “denied” previously, the statement continued.
Some see this move as an intent to change the cultural and religious make-up of the state until which up now has been a Muslim-majority region, and with the end of its special status, Indians from other parts of the Hindu majority country will now be able to acquire land, which was prohibited before.
Since the announcement on Monday, the Indian-administered Kashmir region is under heavy lockdown with a restriction on public gatherings. Leaders in the region were also put under house arrest.
Kashmir has been a disputed region since 1947 when India and Pakistan won their freedom from British rule.
The two countries, which have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir, claim the divided territory in its entirety.
The region has witnessed separatist insurgency since the 1990s.