Kashmir dispute: Pakistan downgrades ties with India

Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan (file photo)Image copyright

Image caption

The Wagah border crossing is a symbol of the often tense relationship between India and Pakistan

The row between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir has deepened with Pakistan’s announcement that it was expelling India’s top diplomat and suspending trade.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been on lockdown since the Indian government decided on Monday to strip the region of its special constitutional status.

Telephone networks and the internet were cut off on Sunday evening.

Tens of thousands of troops have been patrolling the streets.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, but they each control only parts of it.

Instances of protest and stone-throwing have been reported despite the communications blackout and a curfew.

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Local leaders have also been detained.

There is a long-running separatist insurgency on the Indian side, which has led to thousands of deaths over three decades. India accuses Pakistan of supporting insurgents but its neighbour denies this, saying it only gives moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris who want self-determination.

A statement from the Pakistan government said Prime Minister Imran Khan had “directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to expose brutal Indian racist regime, design and human rights violations”.

He also directed the armed forces to remain vigilant, the statement said.

Under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, the state of Jammu and Kashmir had special dispensation to make its own laws. However, the Indian government is now revoking most of Article 370, the basis for Kashmir’s complex relationship with India for some 70 years.

Pakistan says it will ask the UN Security Council to consider the dispute.

Neighbouring China has also voiced opposition to the Indian move, describing it as “unacceptable”.

In Kashmir itself, sporadic instances of protest and stone-throwing have been reported, although the streets of the regional capital, Srinagar, remained deserted on Wednesday.

Kashmiris in other parts of the country said that they were unable to get through to their families.