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Trump urges India, Pakistan to reduce tensions in call with leaders

  • Published at 09:13 pm August 20th, 2019
Modi-Imran
India's PM Narendra Modi delivers a speech during a ceremony to celebrate country's 73rd Independence Day in New Delhi on August 15, 2019, Pakistani PM Imran Khan gestures as he addresses the Azad Kashmir parliament on Pakistan's 72nd Independence Day in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan on August 14, 2019 Reuters / AFP

Relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, already hostile, have been further strained over India's decision this month to revoke the special status of its portion of the Kashmir region that both countries claim

US President Donald Trump spoke with the leaders of India and Pakistan on Monday, discussing prospects for improved trade ties with Washington and stressing the need to reduce tensions over Kashmir between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

"Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!" Trump said in a Twitter post.

Relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, already hostile, have been further strained over India's decision this month to revoke the special status of its portion of the Kashmir region that both countries claim. Pakistan reacted with fury, cutting transport and trade links and expelling India's ambassador in retaliation.

Meanwhile, Pakistan said yesterday it would take its dispute with India over Kashmir to the International Court of Justice.

"We have decided to take the Kashmir case to the International Court of Justice," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told ARY News TV. "The decision was taken after considering all legal aspects."

The case would centre on alleged human rights violations by India in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but rule in part, Qureshi said.

More arrests 

Security forces detained 30 people overnight in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, local officials said yesterday.

Crowds have demonstrated frequently in the city despite a severe clampdown on phone and internet services, a ban on public gatherings and detentions of hundreds of political leaders and separatists who have long campaigned for secession from India.

Youth have pelted stones at paramilitary police deployed in Srinagar, and the latest detentions took place in parts of the city where such incidents have occurred, a police officer said.

Reuters visited three schools in Srinagar including Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School and no students had turned up and classes were deserted.

Fifth-generation warfare

Accusing India of waging "fifth-generation warfare," Pakistan said on Monday New Delhi had failed to inform it about the release of water from a dam that could cause flooding across the border.

India, however, rejected the claim saying that under the terms of a water treaty between the two nations it had informed Pakistan about the release of excess water late on Monday when it crossed a certain threshold.

Islamabad said the unexpected release of water into the River Sutlej that flows from India to Pakistan was part of an attempt by New Delhi to flout the longstanding treaty between the countries.

"They try to isolate diplomatically, they try to strangulate economically, they're trying to strangulate our water resources – and water automatically will have an impact on your economy, your agriculture and your irrigation," Muzammil Hussain, chairman of the Pakistani government's Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), told Reuters.

India was using its position upstream to wage "fifth-generation warfare" on the country, said Hussain.

Pakistani emergency authorities were preparing for minor flooding in several areas in Punjab state as a result of the unexpected rise in water flow.

India and Pakistan have long argued over water resources.

A World Bank-mediated arrangement known as the Indus Water Treaty splits the Indus River and its tributaries - which 80% of Pakistan's irrigated agriculture depends on - between the countries.