In a sign that relations between India and Pakistan could deteriorate further in the days to come, Islamabad on Wednesday expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and said it would not be sending its high commissioner-designate to New Delhi.
Pakistan also downgraded its diplomatic ties with India, including suspending bilateral trade, over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). New Delhi was yet to react to the developments at the time of filing this report.
In Washington, a Donald Trump administration official told PTI that the US appealed for an “urgent need” for dialogue among all actors to reduce tensions and avoid a potential military escalation in South Asia. The official said the Indian government “did not consult or inform the US government before moving to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special constitutional status”. “The US calls for calm and restraint on all sides, noting the history of violence and conflict in the region,” the official said.
The situation in Kashmir remained ‘peaceful’ but tense. A near-communications blackout made it difficult to gauge the situation on the ground, but over 500 political workers and leaders are in police detention, officials said.
In Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), attended by top civil and military leadership, during which it decided to expel Bisaria, suspend bilateral trade and review “bilateral arrangements”. It, however, did not specify any time line for India to pull back its envoy. “The Indian government has also been informed that Pakistan will not be sending its high commissioner-designate to India,” a statement issued after the meeting said.
Pakistan will also take the matter (the abolition of Article 370 by India) to the United Nations, including the Security Council, the statement said. Pakistan would observe this Independence Day on August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris. “August 15 will be observed as Black Day,” it added.
Prime Minister Khan also directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to highlight the alleged human rights violations in the Valley. He directed the military to continue vigilance, the statement said.
Foreign, defence and interior ministers of Pakistan attended the meeting. The NSC met after the meeting of top military generals and a rare joint session of parliament on the Kashmir issue on Tuesday.