Every Indian knows this: no one issue unites Pakistanis more than India, and if the sub-text is Kashmir, so much the better. India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and 35A has been a red rag to the Pakistani bull and the National Assembly in Islamabad saw much baying for India’s blood on Tuesday, during the joint session of both houses. They ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Pakistani Prime Minister addressed a joint session of parliament and went many a step further. “We don’t fear death, but I am appealing to the common sense; is the world prepared for the worst, the nuclear war that no one would win?!!! Its time to act”
At a time of mounting economic distress, a rally of ‘concerned citizens’ was taken out through the streets of Karachi, there were warnings of Pakistan “exercising all possible options” to counter India. The usually slumbering leader of the PPP, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, evidently saw an opportunity to redeem himself: “Extremist Indian government’s intentions clear,” he tweeted.
There’s speculation that Pakistan’s designated high commissioner to India will be recalled, which would be a first since he is yet to take over.
Elsewhere the reaction was muted. The U.S. State Department said India’s decision to revoke Article 370 was an “internal matter” adding that, “it was concerned about reports of detentions in the state and urge respect for individual rights…”
At the time of writing, the European Union had not issued any comment. Some of India’s closest European partners, France and the UK did not comment probably because their envoys in Delhi were among some select diplomats briefed by the Ministry of External Affairs. Germany called on India to “comply with the constitution and hold a dialogue with the population concerned”.
A notable reaction was from far right Dutch politician Geert Wilders who tweeted: “India is a full democracy. Pakistan is a 100% terror state. So the choice is easy. Welcome home#Kashmir”.
In the region China said it was “seriously concerned about the situation in Kashmir.” In a written response to media queries, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying noted, “the parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate tensions.”
India was quick to reject the Chinese reaction, calling its decision on J&K an internal matter. “India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise,” the external affairs ministry said.
It also dismissed China’s opposition to Ladakh being made a union territory. “The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill 2019, introduced by the Government in Parliament on 5 August, which proposes the formation of a new ‘Union Territory of Ladakh’ is an internal matter concerning the territory of India”.
China had said it “opposes India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in the western section of the China-India boundary under its administrative jurisdiction”.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Kashmir was an internal affair of India, while the ambassador of the UAE Dr. Ahmed al-Banna expressed the hope that “changes would improve social justice and security and confidence of the people in the local governance and encourage further stability and peace.”
No other reactions were forthcoming from other countries in India’s neighbourhood, perhaps reflecting the view that this is an internal matter.
Meanwhile, India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) reviewed the security situation in Kashmir along with senior stakeholders. The NSA has directed officials to ensure that the common man should not face any hardships, so food, essential supplies and emergency assistance should be made available on priority. People’s concerns should be given topmost priority as no untoward incident has been made possible due to the support and cooperation of the local population.
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