Pakistan downgrades bilateral ties: India tells Pak Article 370 an internal matter

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Updated: August 8, 2019 3:32:29 PM

On Wednesday evening Pakistan National Security committee decided to sever diplomatic ties and suspend bilateral trade with India.

“The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter. Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed,” stated an official statement of the MEA.

The India-Pakistan relationship is back to square one, something akin to the situation in 2001, when both the countries had decided to withdraw their respective envoys following the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.

On Wednesday evening Pakistan National Security committee decided to sever diplomatic ties and suspend bilateral trade with India.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responding to media queries on Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations, once again reiterated that the developments pertaining to Article 370 are entirely the internal affair of India.

Also read: India tells China Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter; country gets global support for revoking Article 370

“The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter. Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed,” stated an official statement of the MEA.

Expressing regret on the decisions taken by Pakistan as the reasons cited are not supported by facts on the ground, India has urged the government of that country to review the decisions taken so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved. “Pakistan is trying to present an alarming picture to the world of bilateral ties between the two sides.”

Sharing his views on Pakistan’s decisions, Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU, has said that “This was expected given the hostile public sentiment and pressure that was mounted by the opposition parties against the government of Imran Khan. His government had to show some action, even when it is aware that this will have no substantial impact on India.”

Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and the Parliament has passed identical resolutions a number of times. “If Pakistan were really concerned about Kashmiri people, it would have given more autonomy and freedom to the people of PoK. The economic condition of Kashmiris there is deplorable, and there are regular reports of violation of fundamental rights in Muzaffarabad and Gilgit and Baltistan,” the JNU professor said.

According to MEA, decisions taken by the government and Parliament are driven by a commitment to extending to J&K opportunities for development which due to a temporary provision in the Indian Constitution were earlier denied. And this move is expected to result in the removal of gender and socio-economic discrimination and upswing of economic activity.

In the opinion of Prof Kumar, Pakistan’s decision to downgrade its relationship will have no significant impact on India, as the relationship with Pakistan was hostile anyway. There were no signs of any beginning of serious talks between the two countries and the exchange of fire between the two countries continue at the borders.

Bilateral Trade

Prof Kumar said that India’s bilateral trade with Pakistan was roughly $2 billion dollars. India had already withdrawn the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status earlier this year. The bilateral trade is so low compared to the total Indian trade that it will not hurt India at all. It is very likely that the proxy trade with Pakistan which takes place through routes such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar will grow further. The ban on trade is likely to hit Pakistan more as the prices of agricultural products such as tomato; onion will witness an inflationary trend.

Pressure through International Forums

Pakistan will try to mount international pressure on India through the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and other forums. This has become a standard practice of Pakistan and will not have any significant bearing on India. The geopolitical situation is much more favorable to India than it is to Pakistan. Except for China, other powerful countries are unlikely to issue any official statements against India. China will also be cautious given its trade, and engagements with India at several multilateral forums.

Impact on India-Afghanistan Relations

Pakistan will continue its policy of keeping India away from the Afghan peace talks. Again this is a continuation of its existing policies. India will have to negotiate with the US to protect its interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s role is important given its control over the Taliban. India has a policy of no negotiation with the Taliban. “Here, India may have to re-visit its erstwhile policy, and develop diplomatic channels with the Taliban who are likely to return to power in the near future,” said Prof Kumar.

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