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Kashmir Dispute: Pakistan Expels Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria

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ISLAMABAD– Amid heightened tensions over Kashmir, Pakistan announced Wednesday that it was expelling the Indian High Commissioner and suspending bilateral trade with its nuclear-armed neighbour, days after New Delhi stripped the disputed 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.

Qureshi spoke as the government released a statement declaring that Pakistan will suspend trade with India in a downgrading of diplomatic ties between the arch-rivals.

Islamabad also vowed to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Monday’s decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to tighten control on the Muslim-majority Kashmir had been widely expected to trigger conflict with Pakistan and reignite an insurgency that has already cost tens of thousands of lives.

Delhi has insisted that the move is an internal matter.

Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan and India since independence in 1947.

A day prior, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to fight the issue “on every forum” and demanded the international community take action, accusing Modi of an anti-Muslim agenda.

The Pakistani military has also said it “firmly stands” with Kashmiris.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been on lockdown since the Indian government decided on Monday to strip the region of its special constitutional status.

Phone networks and the internet have been cut off since Sunday evening.

Tens of thousands of troops have been patrolling the streets.

Instances of protest and stone-throwing have been reported, despite the communications blackout and a curfew.

Kashmiris in other parts of the country said that they were unable to get through to their families. Local leaders have also been detained.

India and Pakistan – both nuclear-armed states – have fought two wars over Kashmir, most recently clashing in a series of aerial attacks over the territory in February.

SOURCE: GEO NEWS/BBC NEWS