Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned of a possible war over India’s move to change the status of the disputed Kashmir region.
Mr Khan told the Pakistani parliament he fears Kashmiri people will turn to violence in response to India’s decision to strip the region of its special status, and that any attacks on Indian security forces could be blamed on Pakistan.
“We will fight it (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy) at every forum,” Mr Khan told the chamber.
“We’re thinking how we can take it to International Court (of Justice) … to the United Nations Security Council.”
India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir, a Himalayan Muslim-majority region that lies on the border of both countries, since the British divided up India in 1947.
The two countries ended up striking a deal and the territory was split into two, with one part run by India and the other by Pakistan.
India’s constitution gave some special privileges to the people of Kashmir, including it’s own constitution, a separate flag, hereditary land rights, public sector jobs and the freedom to make its own laws.
Now, after 70 years, India’s lower house of parliament has ratified a bill presented by Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government to revoke that longstanding constitutional provision.
Boosted security forces are expected to maintain a stronghold in the Kashmir Valley, where about seven million people have been blocked from mobile phone, internet and landline networks. Cut off from the world, it is hard to tell how the locals are reacting to the tense situation.
The Chinese government, which has also claimed vast swathes of territory along its 3500km Himalayan border with India, said it is “seriously concerned” about the developing situation in Kashmir.
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement that India and Pakistan should practise restraint and avoid taking unilateral action to “change the status quo and escalate tensions”.
India and China had a two-month stand-off on Ladakh’s Doklam plateau near Bhutan in 2017.
The Buddhist enclave of Ladakh supported India’s move to break it off from Jammu and Kashmir, a change that locals hope could encourage tourism to the picturesque region and reduce China’s influence in the Himalayas.
Hua said China contests the inclusion of what it regards as its territory on the Indian side of the western section of the China-India border.
“India’s unilateral amendment to its domestic law, continues to damage China’s territorial sovereignty. This is unacceptable,” Hua said.
The Indian government has said Kashmir’s special status hindered its development because it barred people from outside the state from buying property, investing and settling there.