ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump yesterday discussed deteriorating situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir as Islamabad snubbed New Delhi’s veiled nuclear threat.

PM Khan and President Trump held a telephonic conversation about Occupied Kashmir and the regional peace.

Speaking at a news conference in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “Today (PM Khan) has talked to President Trump. Views were exchanged on the situation in the region and particularly the situation in occupied Kashmir.”

The call comes a day after at least five people were killed in cross-border fire between Pakistan and India, amid heightened tensions since New Delhi controversially ended autonomous status of the part of Kashmir it administers.

Skirmishes are frequent across the Line of Control that divides the territory, but the latest deaths came after Pakistan warned it was ready to respond to any Indian aggression.

Qureshi said Trump and PM Khan also discussed Afghanistan, where the US is engaged in talks with the Taliban. They pledged to remain in constant contact moving forward, the minister added.

Earlier in the day, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hinted that New Delhi might change its ‘no first use’ policy on nuclear weapons.

Rajnath made the comment on Twitter after visiting Pokhran, the site of India’s nuclear tests in 1998 under then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

“Pokhran is the area which witnessed (Vajpayee’s) firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’,” Singh wrote, adding: “India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.”

When asked to respond to the Indian minister’s statement, Qureshi said: “It’s an irresponsible statement. Our message is that we are committed to peace and stability. We will discuss this issue further.”

Singh’s comments prompted considerable noise in both Pakistan and India, with Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari tweeting that India “needs to stop lying.”

“You really need to stop lying. India’s claims to NFU (no first use) ended when on 4th January 2003 Indian government declared it would use nuclear weapons against any (even chemical or biological) attack ‘against India or Indian forces anywhere’ - let me jog your memory,” she tweeted.

Qureshi highlighted India’s illegal and unilateral actions seeking to alter the disputed status of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and its demographic structure, which had evoked a strong backlash.

He said Kashmir had been under total lockdown and curfew since August 5. “There were apprehensions of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Kashmiris by India. These actions were a threat to peace and security in the entire region,” he added.

The foreign minister added that India was resorting to unprovoked firing along the Line of Control resulting in casualties on the Pakistan side.

The foreign minister urged the world to play its role and impress upon India to lift the curfew and ameliorate the hardships and suffering of the people in occupied Kashmir.

Qureshi said Pakistan had a diplomatic victory as the world was supporting its stance. “The UNSC meeting is a proof that our case is genuine,” he remarked.

The FM said he was in contact with his counterparts across the world and was briefing them on the Kashmir situation.

To a question, he said: “I will not speak to India’s external affairs minister unless curfew is lifted and the bloodshed is stopped in Kashmir.”

Former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua said abolition of Article 370 was included in Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken bold decisions in National Security Committee and directed for exploiting all options after revocation of Article 370 by India. It is high time to show solidarity with people of Kashmir that we are highly concerned with their present condition,” she said.

Pakistan, she said, had always stated that “we want to resolve all issues through dialogue however India has blocked all the ways to negotiation by abolishing Article 370. The abrogation of Article 370 just exposes India’s status as an occupation force in occupied Kashmir.”