ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has suspended the only passenger rail service with India and banned the screening of Indian movies in the country’s theaters, a day after downgrading relations with New Delhi for its “illegal” revocation of the constitutional autonomy of Kashmir.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government announced Monday it was revoking the special rights granted to the disputed majority Muslim Himalayan region, which is claimed by both New Delhi and Islamabad.
The unprecedented move fueled tensions between the nuclear-armed rival nations, which have already fought two wars over Kashmir.
On Wednesday, Pakistan announced it was downgrading diplomatic and trade ties, and order the expulsion of the Indian high commissioner.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reiterated Thursday his country is taking India’s move to the United Nations Security Council, saying the world body has long declared and recognized Kashmir as a disputed territory.
“Pakistan is looking at political, diplomatic and legal options. We are not looking at a military option,” Qureshi said in Islamabad, when asked whether his country is anticipating another war with India.
Qureshi, however, warned of an internal backlash if and when India eases unprecedented security and communications restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir.
Since Sunday, Indian authorities have disabled internet services, the mobile phone network and landlines in the region. Indian media reported troops have been on the streets and a strict curfew remains in place.
Minister Qureshi noted that "illegal" Indian action coupled with a military buildup in Kashmir are a matter of serious concern for Pakistan. He says the Pakistani government has instructed the military to intensify “vigilance” along the so-called Line of Control, which separates Pakistani and Indian portions of the disputed region.
He rejected Indian assertions that removal of Kashmir’s autonomous status will help bring peace and prosperity to the violence-hit region.
Qureshi spoke hours after New Delhi urged Islamabad to review its decision to lower bilateral diplomatic ties.
“Are they ready to review their steps? Let’s do it jointly because the review will be on both sides and not unilateral,” the foreign minister stressed, when asked whether his country intends to reverse its decision of downgrading ties with India.
Qureshi confirmed that Pakistan has shut down the cross-border Samjhauta Express train, which has been running for decades but faced suspension during times of heightened tensions.