A day after it asked Islamabad to reconsider downgrading of bilateral ties and suspension of trade, Delhi Friday said Pakistan is “nervous” over India’s move on Jammu & Kashmir, and will “not be able to mislead people” if the region develops further.
The Ministry of External Affairs made these remarks on the day President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, splitting the state into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh which will come into being on October 31. The gazette notification will be effective October 31, also the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the country’s first Home Minister credited with uniting India after Partition.
In the Valley, prohibitory orders were relaxed for the first time since the security lockdown to let people offer prayers in local mosques. In Jammu, authorities lifted CrPC Section 144 and said schools and colleges can resume functioning from August 10.
The security establishment is watching Pakistan’s moves very closely, wary of what it does next given its record of keeping the Valley on boil by infiltrating the Line of Control. In fact, Delhi is more worried about trouble from across the LoC than the reactions it may see in the Valley once the prohibitory orders are lifted.
Last night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an address to the nation after his government revoked the state’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, asked the youth of J&K to step forward and take up its political leadership. He promised early elections, and assured J&K government employees that they will be offered the same benefits as government employees in other Union Territories. He showered special praise on the J&K Police for leading the fight against terror, and said J&K will now walk on the path of development.
EXPLAINED | What’s changed in Jammu and Kashmir?
On Friday, Pakistan also announced it will suspend the Thar Express train service which links the two countries across the Rajasthan border, a day after it stopped the Samjhauta Express.
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “There is a feeling that Pakistan is nervous over India’s initiative in Jammu and Kashmir… Pakistan thinks it will not be able to mislead people if there is development in Jammu and Kashmir.”
He said development in the Union Territories will “nullify” Pakistan’s justification to conduct cross-border activities. Pakistan, he said, will try to internationalise the issue by approaching the UN Security Council, but “our views are very clear. Whatever steps are taken with regard to Article 370 completely relates to internal affairs of India. It is time for Pakistan to accept the reality, and stop interfering in our internal affairs”. He said precautionary steps, including restrictions, have been taken to maintain law and order in the Valley.
The government’s measured response to Islamabad’s announcements make it clear that Delhi is trying to signal that it does not want to escalate the matter.
The security establishment fears that Pakistan will fish in the Kashmir waters and try to infiltrate the LoC. That fear has heightened because of Pakistan’s high decibel criticism of India’s move, and its record of engineering attacks in the Valley, sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said.
“Pakistan has already made its intentions clear by expressing its displeasure and anger… We fear Pakistan will exploit the development to try and internationalise the Kashmir issue… Our biggest challenge will be to ensure infiltration is kept to minimum and no major attack takes place,” a senior security establishment officer said.