ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi summoned a joint session of the Parliament on Tuesday, after the Indian government rushed through a presidential decree earlier today to abolish Article 370 of the Constitution which granted special status to Indian-occupied Kashmir.
The joint sitting, to be held at 11am tomorrow, will review the tense situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and along the Line of Control after the Modi government confirmed it had deployed at least 10,000 troops in the disputed region last week. A further 70,000 troops have been deployed since, according to unofficial reports, as panic grips the residents.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the resolution to scarp Article 370 in Rajya Sabha, which revoked the special status granted to occupied Kashmir and made the state a Union Territory with the legislature. The announcement sparked chaotic scenes in the Indian parliament, with opposition politicians shouting protests, and the Congress describing the decision as a “catastrophic step”.
One lawmaker from the regional Kashmir-based Peoples Democratic Party tore up a copy of Indian constitution before being reportedly removed from the chambers by parliamentary marshals.
Former Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that the latest move was the “darkest day in Indian democracy”.
The unprecedented move followed days of uncertainty in the region that began on Friday when New Delhi ordered tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave “immediately”.
All phones, internet services and cable networks in the disputed Himalayan region of more than seven million people were cut at midnight, and only residents issued with a curfew pass were allowed on the streets.
Article 370 of the Indian constitution gives special status to occupied Kashmir. It limits the power of the Indian parliament to impose laws in the state, apart from matters of defence, foreign affairs and communications.
Politicians condemn scrapping of Article 370
The latest development was strongly condemned by Pakistani politicians. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said there was a threat of genocide and ethnic cleansing in occupied Kashmir after India revoked Article 370. He added that Pakistan would request and appeal to the United Nations, OIC, friendly countries and human rights organisations not to remain silent on the issue.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif termed the move “unacceptable” and an “act of treason” against the United Nations. He also called on the Pakistani leadership to immediately demand an emergency session of the UN Security Council and to consult with China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other friendly countries.
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the move and lamented that the atrocities by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir were continuing unabated.
“Atrocities in IOK unabated. Extremist Indian govt’s intentions clear. President must immediately summon Joint session of Parliament in wake of Indian aggression in IOK,” he tweeted.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Pakistan will continue extending moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris until they achieve their right to self-determination under the UN Security Council resolutions.