ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday said that Pakistan will drag India to the UN Security Council for illegal steps taken to change the status of held Kashmir.

Speaking at a news conference here, Qureshi said any review of Pakistan’s decision of downgrading trade with India was linked with a similar rethinking by the neighbourig country on its unilateral decisions on Occupied Kashmir. “They are asking us for review. Are they ready to review their steps (on IOJ&K)? If a review is to be made, then why it should be unilateral? This should also be the bilateral in spirit of the Simla Agreement,” Qureshi said.

The minister said he had informed the European Union Representative for Foreign Affairs that Pakistan will take the matter to the top UN body.

“Pakistan has communicated its concerns to the European Union on the unilateral step of revocation of special status of Kashmir by India, as part of wider outreach efforts,” he added.

Qureshi said he conveyed Pakistan’s concerns in a telephonic conversation with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Airspace not banned. Samjhauta Express suspended

The minister said he informed the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs that Pakistan will take the matter to the UN Security Council.

Qureshi said Pakistan stands by its commitment of opening of Kartarpur corridor. He clarified that Afghan trade will not be affected by Pakistan’s decision to suspend trade with India.

He said Pakistan was looking towards diplomatic and political options in this situation and not military. “However, Pakistan will take proper safeguards as vigilance in the wake of deployment of nine hundred thousand Indian troops in the held valley,” he added.

Asked if the diplomatic staff in Pakistan and India will be minimised after India’s High Commissioner was asked to fly back home, the FM said: “Yes.”

He clarified that the airspace for India had not been banned but the Samjhuata Express train operations had been suspended.

Qureshi said he had briefed the EU official representing 28-member bloc about the possible far reaching and dangerous consequences of the Indian act of revoking Article 370.

The minister said that the Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had told the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs that changing of status of Occupied Kashmir was their internal matter and the step was aimed at socio-economic development of the territory.

Qureshi said he apprised Federica Mogherini that this impression was totally wrong and Pakistan rejects it out rightly. The minister questioned what kind of development is this that the Indian authorities had turned the held territory into a jail. “India has stationed 900,000 troops and have taken the entire population hostage,” he said.

The FM quoted former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru saying, he had declared countless times that future of Kashmir will be decided by goodwill and pleasure of Kashmiri people.

Qureshi said that Federica Mogherini expressed the UE concern over escalating tensions in the region and also the European bloc’s desire for dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.

The Foreign Minister said it was Indian act that escalated tensions and it New Delhi that always avoided talks to resolve the issues between the two countries. He said any initiative by the EU for talks between Pakistan and India will be welcomed.

EU CLOSELY FOLLOWING KASHMIR SITUATION

Qureshi said that unilateral steps taken by India were against the very essence of various resolutions of the United Nations Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking to High Representative of European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini on telephone, he invited the world attention towards the issue.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the current level of bilateral relations, especially signing of the Pakistan-EU Strategic Engagement Plan in June 2019 and agreed that this interaction was in the spirit of close partnership between Pakistan and the EU.

He briefed the EU High Representative on the events of far-reaching consequences unfolding in the region in the wake of the unilateral steps taken by the Indian Government in order to consolidate illegal occupation of Kashmir.

He had addressed two letters to the UN Secretary General highlighting the gravity of the situation. He urged the High Representative to appropriately brief the EU member states on the situation.

The FM expressed apprehension that India could carry out a false flag operation, apportion the blame on Pakistan and embark upon a misadventure into the Pakistani territory.

He emphasized that any escalation on the eastern border could jeopardize the efforts of the international community to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The High Representative stated that they were closely following the situation with deep concern. She agreed that any escalation in the region could negatively impact the Afghan peace process and affect the regional security and stability.

The EU High Representative underscored that all disputes should be resolved through dialogue and peaceful means, said a foreign ministry statement. The two leaders agreed to stay in touch and continue to work together for peace and stability in the region, it added.