Pakistan has announced that it will call its high commissioner back from India and expel the Indian envoy to Pakistan after New Delhi stripped the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.

Iran Press/Asia: After scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories that has dramatic impact on the two neighbours, Pakistan has announced that it will be downgrading diplomatic relations with India. It has also said it will be suspending bilateral trade with India.

According to The Times of India, in addition to ending bilateral trade, which has been valued at several billion dollars annually, Pakistani officials said the government might close the country’s airspace to Indian aircraft.

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In a statement on Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's office said that Islamabad would also review bilateral agreements with India and take the issue up with the United Nations and the UN Security Council.

Imran Khan denounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, accusing his government of promoting “an ideology that puts Hindus above all other religions and seeks to establish a state that represses all other religious groups.”

The decision came after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of the National Security Committee in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Earlier On Tuesday, Khan accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party of believing "that Muslims should be ethnically cleansed in India."

China, which controls about 20% of the Kashmir region, has also protested India's decision, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry accusing India of encroaching on Chinese territorial sovereignty.

Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday that scrapping Article 370 "is unacceptable and will have no effect," and urged India to "strictly abide by the relevant agreements reached by both sides."

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman said on Wednesday that Iran closely follows the recent decisions of the Indian government regarding Jammu and Kashmir as well as the explanations provided by the Indian and Pakistani authorities about the recent developments.

On Tuesday, India's parliament overwhelmingly voted to reclassify the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory, giving the government in New Delhi greater authority over the contested region, which is also claimed by Pakistan. The day before, the Indian government announced it was revoking a provision in the constitution which had granted special status and powers to the state.

Indian-controlled Kashmir remains in lockdown amid a communications blackout, with landline connections, internet and mobile coverage all suspended. Tens of thousands of additional Indian troops have also been deployed into the already heavily militarized region to head off unrest.

India and Pakistan, both of which have nuclear arms, have fought several bitter wars over Kashmir, a mountainous, predominantly Muslim territory claimed by both countries. 101/212/211 

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