Tension soars as New Delhi continues economic retaliation with Islamabad
–India suspends Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service, refuses Pakistani delegates handshake at ICJ
The terror attack in Pulwama has increased tension between Pakistan and India yet again as New Delhi, while blaming Islamabad, has vowed to “retaliate” what is being termed as one of the deadliest inroads against Indian occupying forces in Kashmir.
On February 14, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethpora area of the Pulwama district which resulted in the death of 40 Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.
The attack has sparked widespread calls in India for action against Pakistan with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is facing an election later this year, pledging a strong response and saying he would “give the military free rein”.
While guns remain silent on either side of the border amid increasing tension and Islamabad reiterates its commitment to continue peace talks with New Delhi for the sake of regional stability, a lot is still going on in neighbouring India.
200% IMPORT DUTY ON PAKISTANI GOODS:
According to India Today, continuing its economic retaliation with Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama incident, India has raised the customs duty to 200% on all goods it imports from Pakistan.
The decision will significantly hamper Pakistan’s exports to its neighbouring country, which stood at $488.5 million for the fiscal year 2017-18. The decision will also lead to a drastic increase in the price of imported goods – fresh fruits, cement, petroleum products and mineral ore.
The development came after India withdrew its Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for Pakistan.
MUZAFFARABAD-SRINAGAR BUS SERVICE SUSPENDED:
Continuing its blame game, India has also temporarily suspended the bus service between Pakistan’s Muzaffarabad and Indian-occupied Kashmir’s Srinagar.
“Due to the prevailing law and order situation [the Pulwama attack], the weekly Line of Control bus service and trade have been put on hold,” Poonch Deputy Commissioner Rahul Yadav told the Hindustan Times.
The bus service, a brainchild of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, was started in 2006 to allow divided families to meet.
NO HANDSHAKE FOR PAKISTANI REP:
Ignoring diplomatic norms, Indian delegation attending the hearing of Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Monday refused to shake hands with its Pakistani counterparts.
A video making rounds over the internet on Monday showed Pakistan’s Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan going up to the Indian delegation ahead of the hearing and extending his hand as a greeting, however, the Indian diplomat, in return, offers a curt gesture with folded hands.
PSL BLACKOUT IN INDIA:
According to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Indian broadcaster IMG Reliance has withdrawn from its contract to produce coverage of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) across the country.
The PCB said an announcement of the new live broadcasters of the tournament would be made soon. “The PCB always had a contingency plan in place, and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner,” PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan said in a statement.
He added that the board has also noted the recent turn of events and expresses its extreme disappointment as it believes sports and politics should be kept separate.
T-SERIES DITCHES PAKISTANI SINGERS:
Flames of Indian hostility have also engulfed the entertainment industry as Indian music record label and film production company, T-Series, has removed the songs of Pakistani artists from its YouTube channel.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), a far-right Indian political party, had called for all music label companies to stop working with Pakistani singers.
“We have verbally communicated to Indian music companies like T-Series, Sony Music, Venus and Tips Music etc to not work with Pakistani singers. These companies should stop it immediately or we will take action in our own style,” said Amey Khopkar, head of the MNS Chitrapat Sena.
Recently, Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series had collaborated with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam for two different singles. “They have removed their songs [from the company’s YouTube channel] post our warning,” Khopkar claimed.
Meanwhile, Indian film star Ajay Devgan announced on Monday that his upcoming movie Total Dhammal would not be released in Pakistan “in light of the current situation”.