Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the world community to take notice of Indian moves to change the status of the disputed Kashmir region, and warned that Islamabad and New Delhi could go to war if India repeats a military strike inside his country.
Khan told the Pakistani parliament that he fears that Kashmiri people, angered over India’s decision to strip the region of its special status, could launch an attack on Indian security forces and that New Delhi could blame Pakistan for it.
Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan, and is claimed by both.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the territory, and engaged in an aerial clash in February after a militant group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for an attack on an Indian military convoy.
“We will fight it (Modi’s policy) at every forum. We’re thinking how we can take it to International Court (of Justice) … to the United Nations Security Council,” Khan told Pakistan’s parliament.
India’s lower house of parliament ratified a bill presented by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government to revoke a longstanding constitutional provision that made Kashmir exempt from some Indian laws and gave its residents hereditary rights to land, educational scholarships and public sector jobs in the region.
An indefinite security clampdown continues in the Kashmir Valley, where about seven million people were blocked from mobile phone, internet and landline networks. As a result, it is unclear how the locals are reacting to the situation.
The Chinese government said it is “seriously concerned” about the developing situation in Kashmir.
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on the foreign ministry website India and Pakistan should practise restraint and avoid taking unilateral action to “change the status quo and escalate tensions”.
The Buddhist enclave of Ladakh cheered India’s move to hive it off from Jammu and Kashmir state, a change that could spur tourism and help New Delhi counter China’s influence in the contested western Himalayas.
Ladakh is an arid, mountainous area of around 59,146 square kilometres, much of it uninhabitable, that only has 274,000 residents. The rest of Jammu and Kashmir is roughly 163,090 square kilometres with a population of about 12.2 million.
China and India still claim vast swathes of each other’s territory along their 3500km Himalayan border. The Asian rivals had a two-month stand-off on Ladakh’s Doklam plateau in 2017.
Hua said China contests the inclusion of what it regards as its territory on the Indian side of the western section of the China-India border.
“India’s unilateral amendment to its domestic law, continues to damage China’s territorial sovereignty. This is unacceptable,” Hua said.
The Indian government has said Kashmir’s special status hindered its development because it barred people from outside the state from buying property, investing and settling there.