ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said it would not take military action against nuclear-armed rival India for stripping Kashmir of its autonomy, though tensions over the disputed Himalayan region remained high, as troops there kept it under lockdown.
The statement from Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi eased fears of an all-out clash between the South Asian neighbors, which have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region — but none since they both gained nuclear weapons.
On Monday Delhi stripped the Indian-held portion of Kashmir of its special autonomy, bringing it under its direct rule and deepening animosity with Pakistan, igniting days of debate over how the country should respond.
“Pakistan is not looking at the military option. We are rather looking at political, diplomatic and legal options to deal with the prevailing situation,” Qureshi said at a press conference in Islamabad.
Tensions remained high, however, with Qureshi’s comments coming on the heels of a decision by Islamabad to downgrade its diplomatic ties with India, suspend bilateral trade, and expel the country’s envoy.
Pakistan has also promised to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council, while its military has said it “firmly stands” with Kashmiris.
In his first comments since his government’s decision, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday also defended the move as necessary to help end Pakistani-backed terrorism there.
“Friends, I have full belief that we will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir from terrorism and separatism under this system,” Modi said Thursday in a televised live address.
He accused Pakistan of using the special status “as a weapon against the country to inflame the passions of some people” against India.