New Delhi: A number of Indian leaders and diplomats on Wednesday responded to Pakistan's move to cancel bilateral trade with Delhi and recall its envoy, calling it "short-sighted".
Former Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid described the move as "short-sighed".
“They are the only ones who will suffer losses," he said. "But if they want to take a symbolic decision, it's their choice.”
Pakistan announced on Wednesday that it is expelling Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and suspending bilateral trade a day after New Delhi stripped Jammu and Kashmir of special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.
"We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their envoy,” Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced in televised comments, while a government statement declared that Pakistan will suspend trade in a downgrading of diplomatic ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Pakistan’s cancellation of bilateral trade could adversely affect the proposed construction of the Kartarpur corridor on the backburner, said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, expressing concern and describing Islamabad’s reaction as a "kneejerk" one and uncalled for.
“Kashmir was an internal matter for India, which was in its rights to take any decision with regard to the region and Islamabad shouldn't have used it as an excuse to undermine its diplomatic relations with India”, he said.
Pakistan's decision was not in the interest of regional security, he said, warning that any such move to destabilise the fragile peace of the South-East Asian region would make the neighbouring country itself vulnerable.
Singh hoped these developments would not affect the Kartarpur corridor and Pakistan would not hurt Sikh sentiments by putting the much-awaited corridor on hold. The decision to build the corridor to mark the historic occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev had been welcomed by Sikhs all over the world and any move now to scuttle the project would leave millions of devotees disappointed.
Political considerations should not be allowed to overshadow the religious feelings of the Sikhs, for whom Kartapur Gurdwara stands out as a symbol of reverence, he said.
Singh urged the Centre to take up the matter with Islamabad on priority and ensure that the construction of the Kartarpur corridor remains on track, notwithstanding the diplomatic and other developments between the two nations.
TCA Raghavan, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, said that trade between India and Pakistan had never been of a large volume. "Steps they (Pakistan) have taken are to show their political constituencies that they are dealing with the matter," he said. "In any case, not having diplomatic contacts is not a good development.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a crucial meeting of the National Security Committee, which was attended by top civil and military leadership. The committee decided to suspend the bilateral trade and review "bilateral arrangements". The Pakistani government said the decision was taken "arising out of unilateral and illegal actions" by India, the situation inside Jammu and Kashmir and along the Line of Control (LoC).
BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav said that Pakistan had no locus standi on this issue. “The Indian Parliament had taken a decision about Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and that’s an internal matter. No other nation has locus standi to react on this,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)