UN Security Council to discuss Kashmir crisis on Friday

Meeting was requested by China on Pakistan's behalf, diplomats say

epa07775101 Kashmiris raise black flags above the Indian national flag as they observe India's Indpendence day as black day to protest New Delhi's move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani administered Kashmir, Pakistan, 15 August 2019. Indian government on 05 August moved a resolution in the parliament that removes the special constitutional status granted to the disputed Kashmir region. The Indian-administered Kashmir region has been under heavy lockdown with a restriction on public gatherings. Kashmir has been a disputed region since 1947 when India and Pakistan won their freedom from British rule.  EPA/AMIRUDDIN MUGHAL
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The United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the crisis in Kashmir following India's decision to strip the region of its autonomy.

The meeting will take place behind closed doors starting at 10 am.

It is extremely rare for the Security Council to discuss Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.

The last time there was a full council meeting regarding the Himalayan region was in 1965, but Friday's discussion will instead be heard in private consultations.

The National understands that China, a permanent member of the council, requested the meeting on Pakistan's behalf.

Parts of Kashmir that India controls have been under lockdown since August 4, with freedom of movement restricted and phones and the internet cut.

A day later, India scrapped Article 370 in its constitution which had granted Kashmir special autonomy, splitting the state of Jammu and Kashmir in two and downgrading their status to union territories. The decision infuriated Pakistan.

In a speech marking Indian Independence Day Thursday Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the step was one of several "path-breaking" moves by his newly re-elected administration, and that "fresh thinking" was needed after seven decades of failure to ensure harmony.

Kashmir has been the spark for two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals, most recently in February when they conducted tit-for-tat air strikes.

Pakistan observed "Black Day" on Thursday to coincide with India's independence day celebrations.

And Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has warned of possible "ethnic cleansing" in Kashmir, replaced his Twitter profile photo with a black circle.