As China expressed “serious concern” at India’s decision to revoke the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan voiced apprehension that Pulwama-like attacks could follow the Centre’s move, which could even trigger a conventional war between Pakistan and India.
Responding to China’s statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that “India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise”. This comes ahead of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to China on August 11.
China, with which India shares a contested border, said that “the parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution, especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate the tension”.
On the day Lok Sabha passed The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, conveying China’s opposition to India’s move to create a separate Union Territory of Ladakh, said in Beijing that the issue is a legacy of history between India and Pakistan.
In a written response to queries on the exchange of fire along the Line of Control (LoC) and India’s move to revoke Article 370, Hua said China’s position on Kashmir was “clear and consistent”. “We call on the two sides to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard regional peace and stability,” she said.
“China is always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction. This firm and consistent position remains unchanged. Recently, India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law. Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force. We urge India to exercise prudence in words and deeds concerning the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides and avoid taking any move that may further complicate the boundary question,” she said.
Responding sharply, MEA official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, introduced by the government in Parliament on August 5, which proposes the formation of a new Union Territory of Ladakh is an internal matter concerning the territory of India… India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise.”
“So far as the India-China boundary question is concerned, the two sides have agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question on the basis of the political parameters and guiding principles for the settlement of India-China boundary question. Pending such a settlement, both sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas on the basis of the relevant agreements.”
Meanwhile, addressing a joint sitting of Parliament in Islamabad to discuss Kashmir, Prime Minister Khan said the Centre’s move could trigger a conventional war between India and Pakistan. “This will be a war that no one will win and the implications will be global,” he said.
Islamabad was also considering approaching the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). “We will fight it at every forum. We’re thinking about how we can take it to International Court (of Justice)… to the United Nations Security Council,” Khan said.
And Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said his troops were prepared to “go to any extent” to help Kashmiris. Presiding over the Corps Commanders Conference on a single point agenda of Kashmir, he said: “Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations…”
However, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) “took note” of India’s decision and said it was mainly aimed at “reducing regional disparity and improving efficiency”. The UAE is one of the major OIC countries, and its response is being perceived positively in Delhi.
Pakistan is lobbying with the OIC — its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has asked the grouping to make a statement against the move.
Turkey too expressed “concern” at the move, and said it was ready to “contribute to easing the tension in the region if the parties give consent” while the US said it was “closely following the events” in J&K and the UK supported calls for the situation to remain calm.
“We note that the Indian government has described these actions as strictly an internal matter. We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities. We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control,” said US Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.