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Pakistan To Take Kashmir Dispute To ICJ

Protesters shout slogans at a rally against the Indian government's move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy and impose a communications blackout, in Srinagar on August 16.

Pakistan says it will challenge New Delhi's decision to revoke the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on August 20 told ARY News TV that the decision to take the matter to the United Nations' top court, based in The Hague, “was taken after considering all legal aspects” of India’s actions.

The announcement comes as India said one of its soldiers was killed and four others injured by Pakistani fire on Indian border posts in the disputed Himalayan region that's split between the nuclear neighbors but claimed by both countries in its entirety.

India also claimed that it retaliated, causing causalities among Pakistani troops, although there has been no confirmation from Islamabad.

A day earlier, Pakistan said that civilian casualties occurred the previous day because of "unprovoked cease-fire violations" by India.

Pakistan and India often exchange fire in the region, but tensions have increased since New Delhi's August 5 decision to reduce the autonomy of Indian-ruled Kashmir, cut off Internet and phone services, and strictly limited the movements by the public.

In a phone call on August 20, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, that India and Pakistan must resolve the Kashmir issue “bilaterally” and through “dialogue,” his office said.

The previous day, U.S. President Donald Trump urged restraint on both sides.

“Spoke to my two good friends Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister [Imran] 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 tweeted.

It was Khan’s second conversation with Trump in three days.

The president of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan, said he welcomed Trump’s efforts to reduce tensions amid concerns of a possible humanitarian crisis in the region.

Pakistan said its case before the ICJ would center on alleged human rights violations by India in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Rulings by the court are binding, although it does not have the power to enforce them.

India did not immediately comment on Islamabad's announcement, but it has regularly denied committing human rights violations in Kashmir.

Along with the intentions to take the matter to the ICJ, Pakistan’s foreign minister has also demanded that a UN observer mission be “dispatched forthwith” to the Indian part of Kashmir and for a curfew there to be canceled “immediately.”

India has said it was gradually restoring phone lines and easing the lockdown. Public buses were running in rural areas, but troops restricted the movement of people on mostly deserted streets in Srinagar, the region's main city.

Two out of the three wars Pakistan and India have fought since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 were over control of Kashmir.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, AFP, AP, and Reuters

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