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Pakistan not looking at military option: Shah Mehmood Qureshi

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Islamabad, Aug 8, 2019-

Pakistan is not looking at military option in the row with India over Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday as tensions flare up between the two neighbours following New Delhi’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir.

“We are rather looking at political, diplomatic and legal options to deal with the prevailing situation. Pakistan has decided to stay vigilant because India can start a false flag operation, similar to Pulwama, anytime,” said the Minister while addressing the media in Islamabad.

“We need to be prepared as India can react anyway.”

Qureshi said Pakistan would take the matter of India scrapping the special status for Jammu and Kashmir to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and that the decision had been taken in light of several pre-existing UN resolutions on the Kashmir dispute.

The Minister said that Pakistan “rejected New Delhi’s impression that scrapping Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was its internal matter” and called the “claim wrong from a historical, legal and moral perspective”, Dawn newspaper reported.

Qureshi also questioned India’s stand that the change in the constitutional status was aimed at taking steps for the welfare of Kashmiris.

He asked that what had stopped New Delhi from taking such measures since Article 370 was inserted into the Indian Constitution seven decades ago.

Noting that as many as thousands of Indian troops had been deployed in Kashmir, Qureshi asked the Indian government whether turning the region into a “virtual jail” was one of its “welfare steps”, according to Dawn.

“I want to ask India what they are trying to prove by taking 14 million Kashmiris in custody? Will the Indian soldiers crush the protesters who will stage a revolt once the curfew has been lifted? he questioned.

Challenging India’s stance that the Kashmir move was its “internal matter”, the Minister said former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had declared “countless times” making at least 14 solemn promises and commitments that “the future of Kashmir is going to be decided finally by the goodwill and pleasure of her people”.

Qureshi told reporters that the world would take time to respond and form public opinion. “India is presenting explanations after we downgraded relations.”

He said that by taking a “unilateral decision in occupied Kashmir, India had attacked the spirit of the Shimla Agreement”.

Citing his conversation on Thursday with EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, the Foreign Minister said it was India, and not Pakistan, that was avoiding to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

Qureshi termed as “fake news” reports that Pakistan had closed its airspace in the wake of tensions with India.

He also said that Pakistan’s commitment to build the Kartarpur Corridor, which once completed will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district to Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district, “stands”.

“We respect all religions and do not want to become a hurdle in the way of people-to-people contact,” he said, urging the Indian Sikh community to ask their government whether it is willing to see the project through.

He also denied that Islamabad’s suspension of bilateral trade with New Delhi would impact its (Pakistan’s) trade with Afghanistan, saying: “We do not want to put our Afghan brothers into any difficulty.”

The Minister also confirmed that the Samjhauta Express train service between Pakistan and India would no longer continue.  (Agency)

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