New Delhi/Islamabad: In a major escalation of diplomatic hostilities with India after New Delhi’s bold move on Kashmir, Pakistan announced on Wednesday that it would “downgrade diplomatic relations with India”, with Islamabad asking New Delhi to “withdraw” Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria.
There were reports that Pakistan may partially close its airspace, but a full closure too cannot be ruled out, sources said.
There were also reports that some Indian commercial flights were asked to take an alternate route, resulting in additional flying time. “Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back,” foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was quoted by news agencies as saying in televised remarks in Islamabad soon after the NSC meeting.
While Mr Bisaria is in Islamabad, Pakistan’s high commissioner-designate Moin-ul-Haq is yet to take charge in New Delhi and will therefore not join now.
In other decisions, Pakistan also decided to “review bilateral arrangements, take the (Kashmir) matter to the United Nations, including the Security Council”. This was decided by Islamabad after Pakistan PM Imran Khan on Wednesday “chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee at the Prime Minister’s Office”.
Pakistan also decided that its Independence Day on August 14 will “be observed in solidarity with brave Kashmiris” and “their just struggle for their right of self-determination”.
Pakistan’s military leadership also attended the meeting. The meeting was attended by Pakistan’s foreign, defence and interior ministers, as well as the all-powerful Army chief, the ISI chief and the foreign secretary.
A joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament, in a resolution, accused India “of trying to change the demographic structure” of J&K. During a discussion in Pakistan’s Parliament, its science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry had urged his government to cut off diplomatic ties with India.