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  • Indian security forces personnel stand guard next to concertina wire laid across a road during restrictions after the government scrapped special status for Kashmir.

    Indian security forces personnel stand guard next to concertina wire laid across a road during restrictions after the government scrapped special status for Kashmir. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 August 2019

India's nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan downgraded all ties with India, asked armed forces to be "ready" while China slammed India for adding its territory under Indian occupied Kashmir.  

Pakistan said Wednesday it was downgrading diplomatic relations and suspending bilateral trade with neighbor India after its government scrapped Indian Occupied Kashmir’s Special status Monday. 

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Nuclear-armed neighbors China and Pakistan, both of whom administer parts of the region, have voiced fierce opposition to India's removal of a constitutional provision that had allowed the country's only Muslim-majority state to make its own laws.

Pakistan called back its envoy from New Delhi, expelled India’s top diplomat and suspended bilateral trade. 

The decision was taken by the National Security Committee in a meeting led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and announced on Twitter on the government’s official page. 

A spokesman for India's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pakistan's move.

Meanwhile, China issued a strong-worded warning to India over its moves in the contested territory over the past few years.

"Recently India has continued to undermine China's territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press conference.

"Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force. We urge India to exercise prudence in words and deeds concerning the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides and avoid taking any move that may further complicate the boundary question."

Pakistani local media has reported that Khan has directed armed forces to be ready but did not elaborate more. People are fearing a potential war between three nuclear-armed neighbors which increased with the news that Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi is expected to travel to China in the next few days. 

The northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, as shown in the Indian map, is a wrong depiction of the territory. The whole state does not belong to India. Since 1947, three wars were fought between India and Pakistan and the later occupied some territories which are known as Azad Kashmir (Independent Kashmir).

China also controls a part of the Kashmir region. Hence India’s declaration of the whole region as part of its territory drew the warnings from its neighbors. 

India’s measures were criticized by other international players. 

The U.K. Labour Party in a statement said that the British government should ask India to deescalate the situation immediately. 

The U.N. Human Rights spokesperson said, "We are deeply concerned that the latest restrictions in Indian-Administered Kashmir will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region.”

Thousands of Indian security forces kept a lid on protests in Kashmir Wednesday, helped by the continued suspension of telephone and internet services after the Himalayan region's special status was scrapped this week.

Streets in the main city of Srinagar were deserted for a third day, with almost all shops shut, barring some pharmacies. Armed federal police manned mobile checkpoints across the city, limiting people's movement.

Knots of young protesters threw stones at soldiers, police and a witness said, amid anger over the telecoms clampdown that began on Sunday.

"These (protests) are mostly localized because of the heavy troop deployment," said a police officer who sought anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, adding that police used tear gas and pepper spray to scatter the protesters.

A witness described an episode of hours of stone-throwing on Tuesday in the Old Barzullah area near the city center, saying, "I saw around 100 boys, in small groups, pelting stones." He added, "The police fired tear gas to beat them back."

The Huffington Post reported that 13 people had been admitted with pellet injuries to their eyes to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital in Srinagar, citing a hospital official.

It also quoted a resident of the old quarter of Srinagar, Owais Ahmad, as saying he was walking near his house when paramilitary forces fired pellets at him. The Home Ministry in India's capital Delhi said it had no information about the incident.

The Huffington Post also reported that a 17-year old boy jumped off a bridge into the Jhelum river when he and his friends saw a group of paramilitary police on both sides of the bridge. 

All telephone, television, and internet connections remained severed in Kashmir. At night, police vans patrol the streets with loudspeakers warning residents to stay indoors.

About 200 police and local administration officials have received satellite phones, with several hundred more using a restricted military network, a police official said.

Srinagar’s fire officials also fear people might not be able to reach them in emergencies. "Communication is a lifeline," said one fire official who requested anonymity. "Only if someone contacts us can we do something."

A radio communications network links Srinagar's 21 fire stations, but with telephone lines down and no satellite phones, firemen can only be alerted by a call from the police or an individual who visits a fire station.

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