(Bloomberg) -- India’s move to abolish the decades-long autonomy of Kashmir has drawn strong reaction from its neighbors, with China accusing New Delhi of undermining its territorial sovereignty and Pakistan’s army vowing to go to "any extent" to stand by the Himalayan state.
China’s strongly-worded statement was most critical of the impact of India’s actions on the mainly Buddhist region of Ladakh -- an area of strategic importance nestled between Tibet and Pakistan.
Just two years after India and China’s decades-long dispute flared up over a remote area of the Himalayas, and six months after the most serious military escalation between India and Pakistan in decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise move on Kashmir has inflamed tensions yet again.
Beijing has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in the western section of the China-India border, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Hua Chunying said in a statement Tuesday.
"The recent unilateral revision of domestic laws by the Indian side continues to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty, which is unacceptable and will not have any effect," Hua said.
India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Tuesday the creation of a new union territory of Ladakh was an internal matter.
"So far as the India-China Boundary Question is concerned, the two sides have agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement," Kumar said in a statement. "India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise."
‘We Will Retaliate’
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said India’s move may lead to a war, while its army pledged to go to “any extent’’ to defend the people of the disputed state that’s claimed in full by the two nuclear-armed nations.
“We will retaliate any attack” on part of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan, Khan said at a meeting of parliament that was called to debate the move. “This is not a nuclear blackmail. The world will be responsible if it doesn’t take action against India.”
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote a letter to the secretary general of the United Nations on the “critical situation”, according to a tweet by the government on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s army said it “stands by the Kashmiris in their struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfill our obligations.” It will not recognize the “sham” Indian efforts to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy, spokesman General Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet after a meeting of top army commanders.
India has accused Pakistan of using militant groups including Jamaat-ud-Dawa led by Hafiz Saeed, the suspected planner of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, of waging a proxy war in Kashmir. Islamabad denies the charges.
China, meanwhile, expressed serious concerns about the current situation in Kashmir.
"We call on India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through dialogue," she said, noting China had urged India to "avoid any move that further complicates the border issue."
India and China have long had border disputes in Ladakh, which was made a federally administered region along with the move to remove the special status to Kashmir in parliament on Monday. A two-week standoff ensued in September 2014 when Chinese troops advanced several kilometers into northern Ladakh.
(Recasts throughout with Pakistan reaction from third paragraph.)
--With assistance from Dandan Li.
To contact the reporters on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ismail Dilawar in Karachi at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at firstname.lastname@example.org, Unni Krishnan
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