Pakistan premier Imran Khan vows to challenge India over Kashmir move
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed on Tuesday to challenge at the UN Security Council India's decision to strip Kashmir of its special autonomy, a move he warned could provoke conflict in the region.
Khan gave a forceful rebuke of Prime Minister Narenda Modi's decision on Monday to scrap the special status granted to the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir from India's constitution in front of a joint-session of parliament in Islamabad.
"I want to make it clear that we will fight this issue on every forum, (including) at the UN Security Council," said Khan, who also promised to raise the issue with heads of state and take the matter to the International Criminal Court.
Khan demanded action from the global community as he accused Modi of violating international law in pursuit of an anti-Muslim agenda in India.
"If the world does not act today... (if) the developed world does not uphold its own laws, then things will go to a place that we will not be responsible for," Khan added.
He went on to warn that "there will be a reaction" from Kashmiris if India tries to "crush them", likely leading to more violence in the region which in the past has brought the nuclear-armed rivals close to conflict.
Pakistan's military announced it "firmly stands" by Kashmiris following a meeting of the army's top commanders in the garrison city of Rawalpindi to discuss India's move.
"Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations in this regard," General Qamar Javed Bajwa said, in a tweet sent by a military spokesman after the meeting.
"Pakistan never recognised the sham Indian efforts to legalise its occupation" of the disputed mountainous region, spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said.
India-Pakistan rivalry: Kashmiris pay a high price
India and Pakistan continue to clash over Kashmir, a volatile Himalayan region that has been experiencing an armed insurgency for nearly three decades. Many Kashmiris are now fed up with both Islamabad and New Delhi. By Shamil Shams
An unprecedented danger? On 27 February , Pakistan's military said that it had shot down two Indian fighter jets over disputed Kashmir. A Pakistani military spokesman said the jets were shot down after they'd entered Pakistani airspace. It is the first time in history that two nuclear-armed powers have conducted air strikes against each other
India drops bombs inside Pakistan: the Pakistani military has released this image to show that Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistani territory for the first time since the countries went to war in 1971. India said the air strike was in response to a recent suicide attack on Indian troops based in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan said there were no casualties and that its airforce repelled India's aircraft
No military solution: some Indian civil society members believe New Delhi cannot exonerate itself from responsibility by accusing Islamabad of creating unrest in the Kashmir valley. A number of rights organisations are demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government reduce the number of troops in Kashmir and let the people decide their fate
No end to the violence: on 14 February, at least 41 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide bombing near the capital of India-administered Kashmir. The Pakistan-based Jihadi group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, claimed responsibility. The attack, the worst on Indian troops since the insurgency in Kashmir began in 1989, spiked tensions and triggered fears of an armed confrontation between the two nuclear-armed powers
A bitter conflict: since 1989, Muslim insurgents have been fighting Indian forces in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir – a region of 12 million people, about 70 percent of whom are Muslim. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part
India strikes down a militant rebellion: in October 2016, the Indian military launched an offensive against armed rebels in Kashmir, surrounding at least 20 villages in Shopian district. New Delhi accused Islamabad of backing the militants, who cross over the Pakistani-Indian "Line of Control" and launch attacks on India's paramilitary forces
Death of a Kashmiri separatist: the security situation in the Indian part of Kashmir deteriorated after the killing of Burhan Wani, a young separatist leader, in July 2016. Protests against Indian rule and clashes between separatists and soldiers have claimed hundreds of lives since then
The Uri attack: in September 2016, Islamist militants killed at least 17 Indian soldiers and wounded 30 in India-administered Kashmir. The Indian army said the rebels had infiltrated the Indian part of Kashmir from Pakistan, with initial investigations suggesting that the militants belonged to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad group, which has been active in Kashmir for over a decade
Rights violations: Indian authorities banned a number of social media websites in Kashmir after video clips showing troops committing grave human rights violations went viral on the Internet. One such video that showed a Kashmiri protester tied to an Indian army jeep – apparently as a human shield – generated outrage on social media
Demilitarisation of Kashmir: those in favour of an independent Kashmir want Pakistan and India to step aside and let the Kashmiri people decide their future. "It is time India and Pakistan announce the timetable for withdrawal of their forces from the portions they control and hold an internationally supervised referendum," said Toqeer Gilani, the president of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in Pakistani Kashmir
Secession not an option: most Kashmir observers don't see a referendum happening in the near future. They say that while the Indian strategy to deal strictly with militants and separatists in Kashmir has partly worked out, sooner or later New Delhi will have to find a political solution to the crisis. Secession, they say, does not stand a chance
On Tuesday, an estimated 500 people demonstrated in Muzaffarabad, the largest city in Pakistani-held Kashmir.
"We want to tell India that Jammu and Kashmir is not the property of anyone. The people of Jammu and Kashmir will not sit quietly until they get their right to self-determination," protester Shamsher Khan told journalists.
Mass demonstrations were expected to kick off across the country after Friday prayers later this week.
The breathtaking Himalayan region of Kashmir has been disputed by India and Pakistan, who have fought two wars over the region, since independence in 1947.
Earlier this year they came close to war yet again, after a militant attack in Indian-held Kashmir in February was claimed by a group based in Pakistan, igniting tit-for-tat air strikes.
Armed Kashmiri rebels and many residents have fought for the Muslim-majority region's independence or to join Pakistan in an insurgency that has left tens of thousands dead.
Ahead of the announcements, tens of thousands of extra Indian troops were deployed in the territory and a security lockdown imposed.
Editorials and social media in Pakistan were buzzing Tuesday over Modi's decision, with the English daily Dawn running a large headline on its front page reading: "New Delhi sheds fig leaf, robs held Kashmir of special status". (AFP)