India said Pakistan must not interfere in its internal affairs

New Delhi: Pakistan should accept reality and stop meddling in India's internal affairs, the Foreign Ministry said today as Islamabad continued its push back against New Delhi's decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir's special status and divide the state into two union territories.

Addressing a press briefing, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar claimed that India's decision on Jammu and Kashmir has made Pakistan "nervous". "They feel that development activities and overall welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir will nullify their justification for cross-border terrorism. They will not be able to incite separatist activities. They will not be able to support terrorism. They will not be able to mislead people," news agency ANI quoted him as saying.

He also condemned Pakistan's move to downgrade diplomatic and trade ties, which included expelling the Indian envoy and halting cross-border railway services. "It is important to understand that the action taken by Pakistan is unilateral, meaning that they did not consult the other side before taking a decision. Whether it was the Samjhauta Express, trade relations or asking us to withdraw the high commissioner, it has been done without consulting us," Raveesh Kumar said.

The spokesperson said India has urged Pakistan to reconsider these decisions, which were "obviously taken to present a very alarming picture of bilateral relations that something big was going to happen". This was not the case, he clarified.

Raveesh Kumar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already highlighted the ways in which the decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir's special status will remove social and gender inequity, encourage democracy at the grassroots level and improve the livelihood of people in both Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. But Pakistan should stop interfering in India's internal affairs in any case, he reiterated, given that its actions "relate to the Constitution, which is a sovereign matter".

Earlier today, the Pakistan government said it will suspend the Thar Express - its last remaining train link with India - a day after it halted the Samjhauta Express connecting national capital Delhi with the Pakistani city of Lahore. It has also promised to lodge a protest with the United Nations Security Council in this regard.

India held that such a response from Pakistan was completely unwarranted. "The recent developments pertaining to Article 370 are entirely an internal affair of India. The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter. Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed," it said, asking Pakistan to ensure that "normal channels for diplomatic communication are preserved".