Mon, 09 Dec 2019

UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan on Tuesday asked the United Nations Security Council to meet over India's decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Himalayan region that has long been a flashpoint in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

The move by India blocks the right of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there. Telephone lines, internet and television networks have been blocked since the Aug. 5 decision and there are restrictions on movement and assembly.

"Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote in a letter to the Security Council seen by Reuters.

"If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self defense, with all its capabilities," he said, adding that "in view of the dangerous implications" Pakistan requested the meeting.

It was not immediately clear how the 15-member council would respond to the request and whether a member of the body would also need to make a formal request. Pakistan said on Saturday it had China's support for the move.

Poland is president of the Security Council for August.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told reporters at the United Nations on Tuesday that the council had received a letter from Pakistan and "will discuss that issue and take a proper decision."

The Himalayan region is divided between India, which rules the populous Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu city, Pakistan, which controls a wedge of territory in the west, and China, which holds a thinly populated high-altitude area in the north.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to refrain from any steps that could affect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Guterres also said he was concerned about reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir.

The U.N. Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of the mostly Muslim Kashmir.

Another resolution also calls upon both sides to "refrain from making any statements and from doing or causing to be done or permitting any acts which might aggravate the situation."

U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed since 1949 to observe a ceasefire between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.

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