Pakistan expels Indian envoy, suspends trade over Kashmir

Pakistan will suspend trade in a downgrading of diplomatic ties

imran-khan-reuters (File) Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | Reuters

Pakistan announced on Wednesday that it is expelling the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and suspending bilateral trade with its nuclear-armed neighbour, days after New Delhi stripped the Kashmir region of its special autonomy.

"We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their envoy," foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced in televised comments, while a government statement declared that Pakistan will suspend trade in a downgrading of diplomatic ties between the arch rivals. 

In a dramatic move, Pakistan had decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with India. The decision was taken by a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan to protest India’s decision to scrap Article 370. The committee also decided to cut off all bilateral trade with India as well as evaluate all bilateral agreements.

The meeting, which was attended by the chief of army staff, also decided to take the matter of the bifurcation of Kashmir to the United Nations and the Security Council. On August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day will be observed in solidarity with the Kashmiris and their “just struggle’’, a press released issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad read.

The decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with India seems to have been on the table since Tuesday. The joint session of Parliament called by Pakistan made it clear that the popular sentiment favoured action. What has made it more essential is that Pakistan has been unable to drum up any support for its cause to censure India. Apart from China, which has issued "serious concern" over the situation in Kashmir and frowned upon the unilateral change in status, the international community, by and large, has chosen to view the removal of Article 370 as an internal issue. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in an emergency meeting of the contact group on Kashmir, expressed “deep concern’’ and reaffirmed full support for the Kashmiri struggle to achieve their legitimate rights.

The information and broadcasting minister Fawad Choudhury, made a passionate plea to cut off all ties with India. “Why are we not cutting off diplomatic relations? When there is no diplomacy between the two countries, what our ambassador is doing there?’’

While commenting that the Indian Ambassador Ajay Bisaria is a “good person’’, but he represents a “fascist regime’’, Chaudhury said that Pakistan should not let Kashmir become another Palestine.’’ Ironically, Chaudhury was also the first to take to Twitter to condole the death of the former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.