Pakistan to move to UNSC with China support

Reuters . Karachi | Published at 12:50am on August 11, 2019

images

Police personnel struggle to detain an activist of Jammu and Kashmir Youth Congress during a protest against Indian government, after it stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy, in Jammu on Saturday. — AFP photo

Pakistan says it will move the United Nations Security Council with China’s support with a motion to condemn India for its decision to strip its portion of the Kashmir region of special status.

‘I have shared with China that the Pakistan government has decided to take this issue to UN Security Council. We will be needing China’s help there,’ Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a press conference on Saturday.

‘China has assured full support to Pakistan.’

Qureshi said he planned to approach Indonesia and Poland, both non-permanent members of the 15-strong Security Council, for their support.

Pakistan said it had cancelled a bus linking Lahore with India’s capital New Delhi, the last remaining public transport link between the neighbours divided by a dispute over the Kashmir region.

Pakistan has already cut two rail links, suspended bilateral trade and expelled India’s ambassador, all part of what it called a diplomatic effort to protest against the decision.

Meanwhile, big queues formed in Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city on Saturday outside cash machines and food stores as authorities eased a crippling curfew to let the Himalayan region prepare for a major Muslim festival, residents said, reports AFP.

 

But huge numbers of troops remained on the streets a day after security forces used tear gas to break up a demonstration by about 8,000 people against the government’s move to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy, they added.

The Eid al-Adha festival on Monday looms as the next big test for the week-old Indian lockdown in the Muslim-majority region, where the government has ended decades-old rights to property and jobs for local Kashmiris.

Internet and phone lines have been cut and curfew restrictions have been imposed to prevent unrest over the constitutional move which prime minister Narendra Modi said was needed to bring peace and prosperity to the troubled region.

More cars and pedestrians were on the streets Saturday.

‘We can do more but it is still tough, everyone is closely watched,’ said one resident. ‘Our lives are still dominated by razor wire and checkpoints.’

‘Bank machines are running out of cash so there are queues at every machine where notes may be available. People also need food for Eid,’ added a second resident.

Modi said in a nationwide speech this week that Kashmir people would have ‘no problem’ for the festival.

But media reports said authorities would only decide Sunday whether restrictions would be eased for what is one of the most important Muslim festivals of the year.

After weekly prayers on Friday, about 8,000 people gathered for a protest on the edge of Srinagar that was broken up by security forces with tear gas and shotgun pellets, residents said.

‘About 12 people were hurt, but none seriously,’ said one witness.

The home ministry denied any protest took place.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947. Both have fought two wars over the former kingdom. An insurgency against New Delhi’s rule in Indian-administered Kashmir has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the past three decades.

Islamabad has been infuriated by New Delhi’s moves and has expelled the Indian ambassador and halted the little bilateral trade between the arch-rivals.

Pakistani ministers have also halted cross-border transport services and the last trains and buses crossed the frontier on Saturday.

The last Friendship bus left New Delhi early Saturday carrying just two passengers for the trip to the Pakistani city of Lahore.

The service had been running since 1999 except for a two-year suspension after a militant attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 carried out by two Pakistan-based groups.

A Pakistan Tourism Department official in Lahore said: ‘Today was the last day for the Friendship bus service. The bus service is suspended until further notice, we are making refunds to all passengers.’

The last Thar Express train also left the Rajasthan city of Jodhpur early Saturday but had to wait more than 12 hours to get clearance to cross the border, officials said.