Pakistan will not resort to military action in a row with India over Kashmir, Islamabad’s foreign minister said on Thursday, as tensions soared over New Delhi’s decision to tighten its grip on the disputed region.
The move by Delhi on Monday to strip India-Occupied Kashmir of its special autonomy brought the Indian-held portion of the Himalayan region under its direct rule. The decision deepened animosity with Pakistan, which has already fought two of its three wars with India over Kashmir, and ignited days of debate within the country over how Islamabad should respond.
“Pakistan is not looking at the military option. We are rather looking at political, diplomatic, and legal options to deal with the prevailing situation,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during a press conference in Islamabad. “We have decided to go back to the U.N. Security Council to challenge this Indian position, which is morally incorrect,” he added.
Qureshi’s comments come on the heels of a decision by Islamabad to downgrade its diplomatic ties with India, suspend bilateral trade, and expel the country’s envoy. India has dismissed Pakistan’s moves and said its decision to strip the restive region of its autonomy was an “internal affair.”
Pakistan has vowed to “firmly” stand with Kashmiris, but earlier this week Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed exasperation with war-mongering in Parliament, at one point asking rhetorically: “What do you want me to do? Attack India?” He also warned of the global consequences of war between two nuclear-armed nations.
The Muslim-majority Kashmir region has long been a sensitive flashpoint between India and Pakistan, which have had conflicting claims to the region since independence from Britain in 1947. Earlier this year the two sides came to dangerously close to the brink of war once more, after a deadly attack in India-Occupied Kashmir was perpetrated by a local separatist but claimed by a militant group based in Pakistan, prompting tit-for-tat airstrikes igniting brief fears of a nuclear clash.