Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday branded India an “oppressor and aggressor,” on his “Black Day” address, a year after New Delhi imposed direct rule on Indian-administered Kashmir
Protests were planned across Pakistan to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, a move that outraged Islamabad.
India stands exposed before the world: PM Khan
Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it.
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“India stands exposed before the world, yet again, as an oppressor and aggressor,” Khan said in a statement.
“Its so-called secular and democratic credentials stand fully discredited,” he added, calling India’s action last year a “crime against humanity”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government had promised the move would bring peace and prosperity to Indian Kashmir after three decades of violence sparked by an anti-India uprising.
Pakistan, however, has alleged it is a violation of the rights of Kashmiri people.
Imran Khan accused India of attempting to change demographics
Khan accused India of trying to turn Kashmir’s Muslim majority into a minority by ending restrictions on outsiders buying up property “in blatant violation of… UN Security Council Resolutions and international laws”.
The change in rules has sparked fears that the Modi government is pursuing an Israel-style “settler” project.
A referendum in Kashmir mandated by a UN resolution in 1948 has never taken place.
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Police were enforcing tight restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, where religious and political groups had called on residents to observe a “black day”.
Pakistan observes August 5 as “Black Day”
In the Pakistani capital Islamabad, a one-minute silence was held, along with a rally led by President Arif Alvi.
“India has learned from Israel how to change the demography (of Kashmir),” Alvi told the rally
Hundreds of billboards and banners displayed graphic images purportedly of human rights violations by Indian authorities in Kashmir.
Khan led a rally through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, where a few thousand people had gathered. He was due to address the region’s legislative assembly.
Dozens of rallies are expected in other major Pakistani cities too.
On Tuesday, Pakistan released a new official map showing all of Kashmir as its territory.
Tensions spiralled between the nuclear-armed neighbours after India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy and imposed movement and communications restrictions to quell unrest.
Pakistan has repeatedly likened Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Adolf Hitler and called for international intervention.
Pakistan unveils new political map on eve of “Black Day”
The federal cabinet on Tuesday unveiled a new political map of the country, which includes Indian-occupied Kashmir in its entirety. The approval was given in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday during which participants were apprised of the latest situation in the occupied Muslim-majority region.
Speaking during a live televised address to the nation, the premier shared the details of the decisions made in the Cabinet meeting.
“Today is the most important day in the history that we are presenting a new political map of Pakistan before the world,” he said.
“The cabinet has approved the map,” he said, adding that the Kashmiri and national leadership has also green-signalled it. The new map would now be used in school and colleges as well, he added.
The map identifies Indian occupied Kashmir as a “disputed territory” and states that the final status will be decided in line with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
The map rejects the illegal steps taken by India on August 5 last year, he said, adding that the federal cabinet and the country’s political leadership had supported it.
Kashmir: troubled paradise
The latest surge in violence in the disputed Himalayan valley this year has left over 100 suspected Kashmiri militants dead. Some 72 militants have been killed since the coronavirus pandemic emerged in the region on March 20.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China. Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.
AUGUST 5, BLACK DAY FOR J&K!
RESTORE ARTICLE 370,
RESTORE STATEHOOD. pic.twitter.com/6L1vyzfpUO
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Some 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have died over the past 30 years in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, monitoring groups say. India has been very liberal in its killing of Kashmiris.
Read more: India gives a shut up call to OIC on Kashmir
The fighting is between Indian soldiers – who number around 500,000 on the ground – and freedom fighters wanting either independence or union with Pakistan.
Clashes between security forces and militants – which often escalate as demonstrators gather – have been a near-daily occurrence since India launched “Operation All Out” after the death of charismatic freedom fighter Burhan Wani in 2016.
Also, in the Siachen Glacier region in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A ceasefire took effect in 2003. Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights groups, thousands have been killed in the conflict since 1989.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk