Pakistan expels Indian envoy & recalls ambassador over Kashmir row

Pakistan expels Indian envoy & recalls ambassador over Kashmir row Global Look Press/ZUMAPRESS/Rana Sajid Hussain
The Pakistani government is expelling an Indian envoy from the country and recalling its own ambassador from India, in response to a move by New Delhi to revoke legal autonomy from its part of contested Kashmir.

The decision was made on Wednesday following a meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, which resolved to “downgrade” diplomatic relations with India and to freeze trade ties.

“Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, as cited by ARY News. Prime Minister Imran Khan for his part had “directed that all diplomatic channels" be activated to expose what he called "brutal" Indian "regime."

Earlier this week, New Delhi moved to revoke the special autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, two predominately Muslim regions in India, over which Pakistan also has territorial claims. The move was spearheaded by India’s ruling BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It argues that the autonomous status for the provinces has been discriminatory, as the arrangement had previously limited immigration into the regions. The decision was also motivated by security concerns, with lawmakers citing the threat of terrorist groups based in Kashmir.

The action has been broadly supported in the Indian parliament and also cheered across the country, though some politicians and protesters voiced their unease about the decision to revoke the autonomy.

Tensions have soared between the two countries since February, when New Delhi launched airstrikes within Pakistani territory, against what it said was a militant training camp. India blamed the militants for a deadly attack on its police convoy.

Islamabad –which denies allegations of harboring terrorists– responded with its own attack, which culminated in a brief dogfight that saw an Indian fighter jet shot down. Since the brief skirmish, the two nuclear powers have vowed to better their ties, yet have also traded accusations of border violations.