ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Sunday warned India against its plan to scrap Article 35A of Indian constitution, granting special rights to the Kashmiris.

Article 35A of the Indian constitution grants special privileges to permanent residents of (held) Jammu and Kashmir, which defines who is a ‘permanent resident’ of the state and confer on them special rights and privileges in public-sector jobs, acquisition of property in the state, scholarships and other public aid and welfare. The case will be heard in the Indian Supreme Court today (February 25). The Indian government is expected to take a stand in favour of scrapping it.

 However, both mainstream political parties and Kashmiris have warned the government against any such move.

In a statement issued here, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said: “We understand that the Supreme Court of India is due to deliberate, shortly, on petitions calling for scrapping of Article 35A of Indian Constitution. Pakistan condemns any such attempts as these are clearly aimed at bringing about demographic changes in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Any move in this direction would be a blatant violation of international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit introducing material changes to the disputed territory.”

The evolving situation in IOK, it said, “is equally a matter of grave concern. Following reprisal attacks against Kashmiris in Indian-Occupied Kashmir and many parts of India after the Pulwama attack, there have been further heavy-handed steps including enhanced use of force, large-scale arrests, and incarceration of senior Kashmiri leaders. The large-scale deployment of additional paramilitary forces, and orders by the local administration to hospitals and about sale of fuel and food grains, are contributing to an atmosphere of extreme intimidation and fear. Immediate steps are required to reverse this frenzy and restore calm.”

The statement said: “The international community should take cognizance of the situation and counsel India to refrain from further escalation, defuse current tensions and resolve issues through dialogue and engagement.”

Meanwhile, an important consultative meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was held at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. It was attended by former foreign secretaries and diplomats.

The meeting was convened in view of the worsening situation in Occupied Kashmir as well as aggressive designs of India.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said the consultation aimed at devising a comprehensive and integrated course of action. It was also convened to take benefit of the experiences of former diplomats and ambassadors.

He said meeting on important issues of foreign policy, including situation in Occupied Kashmir, proved fruitful. The Foreign Minister said such consultations will also be held on regular basis in the future.