Shah Mehmood Qureshi. File
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has made it clear that no decision has yet been taken to close Pakistan’s airspace to India. Talking to reporters during a visit to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), he dismissed as speculative reports suggesting that the airspace was being shut for India.
“A decision to this effect will be taken after due consideration and looking into each and every aspect of the move through consultation,” he said and added that Prime Minister Imran Khan would have the final word.
Referring to the human rights crisis in occupied Kashmir, he said India had damaged the spirit of bilateralism by its unilateral and illegal actions. He regretted that curfew in India-held Kashmir had entered its 23rd day, saying it was a matter of life and death for the Kashmiris who were facing acute shortage of life-saving drugs and food.
Qureshi said the people were not free to offer even Friday prayers. He said a large number of people working for held Kashmir police were Muslim and they were averse to cooperate. He said reports had been received about clashes between police and paramilitary forces in occupied Kashmir and it was in this background that a decision had been taken to disarm police there.
He said 14 petitions had been filed in the Supreme Court of India challenging illegal action of the Modi government to revoke Articles 370 and 35-A of the constitution guaranteeing special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The foreign minister said the Supreme Court had issued notices to the government and it was a test for the apex court.
Irked over India’s decision to end the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan has said it will not hold any dialogue with India.
According to a report published in the Pakistani media, the Pakistan foreign ministry, spokesperson Mohammad Faisal on Thursday said that Pakistan has always favoured the bilateral dialogue but it won’t happen now.
In his weekly press briefing here, Faisal alleged jail authorities in Kashmir had run out of prison space owing to the sheer number of people arrested.
India calls it an internal issue while it is an international matter. Reality cannot be changed just by India’s statements, he said.
The spokesman also alerted the international community that Pakistan can go to any extent for the Kashmir issue.
“Pakistan has always favoured bilateral dialogue on the Kashmir issue but now it’s not possible,” he said,
“we are still considering to move the international court on the issue. Similarly, we have not taken any decision to block the air route for India,” he added.
Meanwhile, a video of the Pakistani-British boxer Amir Khan mimicking Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is going viral on the Internet, a media report said on Thursday.
Khan is in currently in Pakistan to “express solidarity with our Kashmiri brethren,” The News International said in the report.
In the video, Amir Khan appeared to mimic the pilot while sipping his tea.
“Fantastic tea, Kashmiri tea,” he says in the video which was also shared by Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General, Inter Services Public Relations Pakistan (ISPR), from his personal Twitter account.
On Feb.27, Abhinandan had downed a Pakistani F-16 during a dogfight following which his jet had lost control with the base station.
He had been captured by Pakistani security agencies only to be released to India around 60 hours later at the Wagah border.
Following his capture, a video of the pilot praising Pakistani tea had gone viral with his comment “Tea is Fantastic.”
Pakistani artists and celebrities have also jumped into the fray to show their “solidarity” with Kashmiris while appealing to people to boost the government’s efforts to highlight the Kashmir issue.
Singer Rabi Peerzada said she will be at Liberty Chowk in Lahore at 12pm on Friday to express solidarity with “our Kashmiri brethren” and exhorted people to join in.
Singer Shehzad Roy said he would also observe ‘Kashmir Hour’ in Karachi on Friday while actors Fakhar Alam and Faisal Qureshi said they too would participate.
Tariq Butt / Indo-Asian News Service