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Iran Press TV

UN urges India, Pakistan to stay calm as Kashmir heats up

Iran Press TV

Tue Aug 6, 2019 09:50AM

The United Nations (UN) has urged India and Pakistan to maintain peace as tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors escalate again in the wake of New Delhi's move to strip the disputed Kashmir region of its special autonomy.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to exercise restraint, said his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Monday.

"We are following with concern the tense situation in the region," Dujarric said.

Asked if Guterres intended to play a role in resolving the Kashmir issue, Dujarric said the UN chief had constantly said that his good offices were always available if "both sides" asked for it.

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir on Monday, a move described by Pakistan as "illegal."

In response, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "no unilateral step by the government of India can change [Kashmir's] disputed status... Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps."

Pakistan braces for more protests

The move sparked protests in Pakistan on Monday. More protests are also planned for Tuesday afternoon in Muzaffarabad, the largest city in Pakistani-held Kashmir, alongside demonstrations in Lahore, Karachi, as well as the capital, Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Pakistani lawmakers have begun a joint session of parliament to discuss a possible response to the Indian decision.

A separate meeting by Pakistan's top military commanders was also planned in Rawalpindi.

'US closely watching developments'

In reaction to the move, the United States has said it is "closely" observing developments.

"We are closely following the events in Jammu and Kashmir," said US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. "We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control," which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Ahead of its announcement, India deployed tens of thousands of troops to Kashmir and introduced other security measures – including a call to stock up food and fuel – over claims of an imminent terror attack.

The Jammu and Kashmir government also ordered tourists to cut their stay in the region short and leave as soon as possible because of "intelligence inputs of terror threats" against a huge Hindu pilgrimage and "the prevailing security situation."

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their partition and independence from Britain in 1947. The disputed region is claimed in full by both sides, which have fought three wars over it.

In recent years, southern Kashmir has seen intense fighting between Indian forces and armed Kashmiri fighters, who are demanding independence for the Himalayan region. The conflict has left thousands dead, mostly civilians.

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