By Sajjad Hussain:
PAKISTAN on Wednesday expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, minutes after it decided to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. This was announced after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a crucial meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), attended by top civil and military leadership, during which it was also decided to suspend the bilateral trade and review the “bilateral arrangements”.
“Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in televised comments soon after the NSC meeting. Later, the Foreign Office in a statement said that “Pursuant to the decision of the National Security Committee today, the Government of India has been told to withdraw its High Commissioner to Pakistan.” It, however, did not give any time line for India to pull back its envoy.
“The Indian Government has also been informed that Pakistan will not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India,” the statement said. Pakistan’s new High Commissioner Moin-ul-Haq was expected to leave for India this month to take up his responsibilities. India on Monday revoked Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. A statement issued after the NSC meeting read that the Committee discussed situation “arising out of unilateral and illegal actions” by the Indian Government, situation inside Jammu and Kashmir and along the Line of Control.
The Committee decided “downgrading of diplomatic relations with India” and “suspension of bilateral trade with India,” the statement said. Pakistan will also take the matter (abolition of the Article 370 by India) to the United Nations, including the Security Council, the statement said. India has said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the issue is strictly internal to the country. The statement said that the country will observe this Independence Day on August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris. “August 15 will be observed as Black Day,” it added. Prime Minister Khan also directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to highlight the alleged human rights violations in the Valley. He directed the military to continue vigilance, the statement said.