The PML-N has called out the government over Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s recent statement on India’s move to scrap Article 370 of its constitution.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s spokesperson Mohammad Zubair was not happy over the minister’s comments.
“Is this a historical U turn. FM Shah Mahmood says Pakistan has no issue with India’s decision to do away with article 370. Shah Mahmood says this is India’s internal matter. This means Pakistan has agreed to give up its historical stance that Kashmir is a disputed territory,” he tweeted.
The former Sindh governor explained that by revoking Article 370, India had made occupied Kashmir a part of its Union Territory, wondering that if Pakistan accepts it as such, then what happened to its decades-old stance.
“Then what was the hue & cry for decades especially since 2019?” he asked.
“In my opinion, Article 370 does not hold [the same level of] importance,” the foreign minister had said during a private interview, a few days ago. “[What is of importance is] Article 35-A. In my opinion, the important part of their constitution of Article 35-A.”
The foreign minister had then said that India was using Article 35-A to bring about demographic changes in occupied Kashmir.
When asked whether India had given some assurances to Pakistan on whether it wants to proceed with talks, the foreign minister replied:
“See, [Article] 370 is their internal problem. The people of occupied Kashmir complain [to the Indian government] that you had made some promises to us but have ended up eliminating our identity. So, you see, these are their own frustrations and the matter is also pending before the Supreme Court and the people [of occupied Kashmir] have challenged it as well.”
What are Articles 370 and 35A?
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a “temporary provision” which grants special autonomous status to occupied Kashmir. All the provisions of the constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to occupied Kashmir.
According to this article, except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, the Indian parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. The residents of occupied Kashmir, therefore, live under a separate set of laws as compared to Indian citizens elsewhere in the country, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights.
Article 35A which stems from Article 370 was introduced through a Presidential Order in 1954. This article empowers the legislature of occupied Kashmir to define the state’s permanent residents and their special rights and privileges.
Under Article 35A, Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in occupied Kashmir.