India on Thursday said Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations was meant to present an “alarming picture” of the bilateral ties to the international community. The reasons given by Islamabad were not supported by “facts on the ground”, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Pakistan’s decision to expel India’s envoy and not send its own to New Delhi came on Wednesday evening after the Indian Parliament approved withdrawing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. Pakistan had also said it would bring up the matter at the United Nations Security Council and would “review bilateral arrangements”.

In its response, India said its decisions related to Article 370 were its “internal affair” and urged Pakistan to review its measures so that “normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved”. The statement said the Indian Constitution will always be a sovereign matter, and “seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed”.

The Centre said the decisions were taken to initiate development opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir that were earlier denied due to “a temporary provision” in the Constitution. It said that revoking that provision would remove gender and socio-economic discrimination in the region and would also trigger economic activity and improve livelihood prospects of the residents.

“It is not surprising that such developmental initiatives that could address any disaffection in Jammu and Kashmir should be negatively perceived in Pakistan, which has utilised such sentiments to justify its cross-border terrorism,” the statement said.