Top Indian Diplomat Summoned in Islamabad as Delhi Protests Polls in Pakistan-Governed Kashmir
13:35 GMT 30.07.2021 (Updated: 14:40 GMT 06.08.2022)
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party clinched 25 seats in the 53-member state legislative assembly polls held on 25 July. It is now set to form a government in its side of the Kashmir region. India has time and again rejected Pakistan’s “illegal occupation” of the region and asked Islamabad to vacate the territory.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry on Friday lodged a strong protest with India’s Charge d’Affaires Dr M. Suresh Kumar over Delhi's objection to the elections held in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
“India cannot hide the fact that it is in illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir. While the people of AJK enjoy the fruits of free and participatory electoral process, the IIOJK [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, or the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir] bleeds under India’s illegal occupation”, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry stated.
The diplomatic protest by Islamabad
comes a day after the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) termed the polls as an attempt by Pakistan “to camouflage its illegal occupation” of the territory.
“India has lodged a strong protest with the Pakistani authorities on this cosmetic exercise, which has been protested and rejected by the local people”, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a weekly press briefing. He was responding to questions on the recently concluded elections.
“Such an exercise can neither hide the illegal occupation by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation, and denial of freedom to people in these occupied territories. Pakistan has no locus standi on these Indian territories”, the Indian official added.
“We call upon Pakistan to vacate all Indian areas under its illegal occupation”, stated Bagchi.
The sharp diplomatic escalation between the two South Asian neighbours comes amid already strained ties between their governments.
While the Pakistani leadership has refused to resume the stalled dialogue process with India until Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government
restores the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi has been demanding action against Pakistan-based terrorists accused of plotting attacks in India.
In August 2019, Delhi scrapped the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir
and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two federally-administered regions. The move was rejected by Islamabad, which also administers another part of the Kashmir region.
Consequently, the Imran Khan government downgraded the diplomatic ties with its eastern neighbour and recalled its high commissioner to Delhi, a move reciprocated by the Indian government.
Currently, the high commissioner posts at both India’s mission in Pakistan and Pakistan’s in India are vacant, with the deputy high commissioners acting as the charge d’affaires.