Pakistan expels Indian ambassador over Kashmir dispute

Pakistan said Wednesday that it will "downgrade" its diplomatic relations with India to protest against its neighbor's decision to strip Indian-controlled Kashmir of its special constitutional status.

"We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their" envoy, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced in televised comments.

Read more: Kashmir — The world's most dangerous conflict

Senior military and government officials including Prime Minister Imran Khan made the decision at a National Security Committee meeting.

A separate government statement said the country would also suspend its trade with India and review other aspects of the relationship.

Pakistan's parliament passed a motion calling on the United Nations to pressure India to reverse its decision.

Provoking Pakistan

Both countries and China claim parts of Kashmir. India drew fierce rebukes from Pakistan and China on Monday after it unexpectedly revoked its portion of Kashmir of its autonomy.

Jammu and Kashmir, as the Indian-controlled part is known, was previously able to make its own laws because it was exempt from some parts of India's constitution.

Critics accused the Hindu-nationalist government of trying to promote the share of Hindus in the Muslim-majority state. The former special status had blocked Indians from other areas of the country from owning property there.

The government said the special status had hampered Kashmir's development and integration with the rest of the country.

Simmering conflict

The region has been on lockdown since Monday amid concerns about widespread protests against the government's decision. Internet and telephone services remain blocked late on Wednesday.

Pakistan and India have fought two wars over Kashmir since they became independent from the British empire in 1947.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamist insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegation.

amp/msh (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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