Pakistan rules out 'military option' in Kashmir row: FM

The Indian ministry said creating an alarmist vision in the region will not work to interfere in the new jurisdiction. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 August 2019

Pakistan rules out 'military option' in Kashmir row: FM

  • Pakistan said it would suspend a rail service linking it to India, as relations with its arch rival continue to sour over the contested Kashmir region
  • It also also said it would ban the screening of Indian films in the country's cinemas. 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will not resort to military action in a row with nuclear arch-rival India over Kashmir, its foreign minister said Thursday, as tensions soared over New Delhi's decision to tighten its grip on the disputed region.
The move by Delhi Monday to strip Kashmir of its special autonomy brought the Indian-held portion of the Himalayan region under its direct rule.
The decision deepened animosity with Pakistan, which has already fought two of its three wars with India over Kashmir, and ignited days of debate within the country over how Islamabad should respond.
"Pakistan is not looking at the military option. We are rather looking at political, diplomatic, and legal options to deal with the prevailing situation," said Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during a press conference in Islamabad.
"We have decided to go back to the UN security council to challenge this Indian position, which is morally incorrect," he added.
Qureshi's comments come on the heels of a decision by Islamabad to downgrade its diplomatic ties with India, suspend bilateral trade, and expel the country's envoy.

Pakistan also said on Thursday it would suspend a rail service linking it to India, as relations with its arch rival continue to sour over the contested Kashmir region.
“We have decided to shut down Samjhauta Express,” railways minister Sheikh Rasheed told a news conference on Thursday, in reference to the train running to India's capital New Delhi from the Pakistani city of Lahore.
“As long as I am railways minister, Samjhauta Express can’t operate”. 

Pakistan also said it would ban the screening of Indian films in the country's cinemas. 
"No Indian cinema will be screened in any Pakistani cinema. Drama, films and Indian content of this kind will be completely banned in Pakistan," Firdous Ashiq Awan, an adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a tweet. 
India has dismissed Pakistan's moves and said its decision to strip the restive region of its autonomy was an "internal affair".
Pakistan has vowed to "firmly" stand with Kashmiris, but earlier this week Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed exasperation with war-mongering in parliament, at one point asking rhetorically: "What do you want me to do? Attack India?"
He also warned of the global consequences of war between two nuclear-armed nations.
The Muslim-majority Kashmir region has long been a sensitive flashpoint between India and Pakistan, which have had conflicting claims to the region since independence from Britain in 1947.
Earlier this year the two sides came to dangerously close to the brink of war once more, after a deadly attack in Indian-held Kashmir was claimed by a militant group based in Pakistan, prompting tit-for-tat airstrikes igniting brief fears of a nuclear clash.


Philippines lowers volcano alert, thousands can return home

Updated 26 January 2020

Philippines lowers volcano alert, thousands can return home

  • The nation’s seismological agency said steadily shrinking ash and gas emissions were signs of “decreased tendency toward hazardous explosive eruption”
  • The immediate impact of the reduced warning was provincial authorities lifting the evacuation order for nearly all the towns that ring the volcano

MANILA: A major explosion of the Philippines’ restive Taal volcano no longer appears imminent, authorities said Sunday as they partially lifted a mass evacuation order but warned residents should still remain ready to flee.
Warning signs like earthquakes have been steadily waning since Taal burst to life two weeks ago, prompting at least 135,000 people into evacuation centers over fears of a massive eruption.
The nation’s seismological agency said steadily shrinking ash and gas emissions were signs of “decreased tendency toward hazardous explosive eruption,” leading them to drop the alert by a notch.
The immediate impact of the reduced warning was provincial authorities lifting the evacuation order for nearly all the towns that ring the volcano, a tourist attraction that sits in the middle of a lake.
“Residents of all towns under lockdown except Agoncillo and Laurel now have the option to return,” local governor Hermilando Mandanas told a press conference.
“There’s a possibility that the volcano may still erupt and we should still be ready to evacuate in one hour.”
The volcano shot ash 15 kilometers (nine miles) high and spewed lava in the January 12 eruption, which crushed scores of homes and killed livestock as well as crops.
However, seismologists warned the volcano could imminently unleash a much bigger eruption, posing a deadly risk to anyone in a 14-kilometer radius “danger zone.”
Taal, located just 60 kilometers from the capital Manila, is one of the most active volcanoes in a country where eruptions and earthquakes are a dangerous part of life.
Its last eruption was in 1977, but it has a long history of activity. In 1965, a Taal eruption killed some 200 people.
The most powerful volcanic explosion in the Philippines in recent years was the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, about 100 kilometers northwest of Manila, which killed more than 800 people.