World, Asia - Pacific, Kashmir marks first anniversary of annexation

Pakistan observes Kashmir 'exploitation day'

Rallies held across country to mark 1st anniversary of India's annexation of Jammu and Kashmir

Islamuddin Sajid and Aamir Latif   | 05.08.2020
Pakistan observes Kashmir 'exploitation day'

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI, Pakistan

Rallies and seminars were held across Pakistan on Wednesday to observe the first anniversary of New Delhi's actions that stripped Indian-administered Kashmir of its special status.

Islamabad observed the day as "Youm-e-Istehsal" or the "day of exploitation" to reiterate its condemnation of the Aug. 5, 2019 move, which led to the disputed valley's annexation with Indian union territory.

The day began with one-minute silence -- traffic across the country came to a halt at 10.00 a.m local time [0500GMT] for 60 seconds.

President Arif Alvi and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi then led a rally in Islamabad to express solidarity with Kashmiris.

Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur, lawmakers from both the government and the opposition, and other government officials marched from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the capital's famous D-Chowk avenue.

Addressing the rally, Alvi accused India of not fulfilling bilateral agreements, which aimed to resolve the long-standing Kashmir dispute.

"Whenever we take the matter to any multilateral forum, India says it is a bilateral issue. But, in the past 73 years, it [New Delhi] has never made any serious efforts to resolve it," he said.

The head of state said India wants to bring demographic change in Kashmir.

"India has learned from Israel how to change the demography of a territory. It is doing what Israeli has done in Palestine, especially in West Bank," he asserted.

Kashmiris, he said, have outrightly rejected India's so-called annexation.

"If Kashmiris were happy with that move, India would not have imposed curfew in the valley today to prevent them from expressing their anger."

He urged the international community including the United Nations and Organization of Islamic Countries to help resolve the dispute between the two arch-rivals.

Scores of rallies were also organized in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the Pakistani-administered part of the Kashmir valley.

A "Kashmir solidarity march" was held in its capital Muzzafarabad attended by the Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, lawmakers, and politicians.

Haider, while addressing the rally, called for a "more aggressive" approach by Islamabad to put pressure on New Delhi with respect to the Kashmir dispute.

Meanwhile, waving Pakistani and Azad Kashmir flags, participants marched in the northeastern city of Lahore to express solidarity with Kashmiris. Governor of Punjab province Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar led the rally.

Syed Murad Ali Shah, chief minister of the southern Sindh province, also led a Kashmir rally in Karachi, the provincial capital and Pakistan's commercial hub.

Organized by different political parties, and civil society members, events were held in Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Multan, Hyderabad and other parts of the country as well.

Chief ministers of northwestern Khyber Paktunkhawa province, Mahmood Khan, and southwestern Balochistan, Jam Kamal, also participated in the rallies.


'Ambassador for all Kashmiris'

Meanwhile, Pakistan's prime minister said the Indian government tried to silence Kashmiris but he will continue to raise voice for them as an "ambassador."

Imran Khan, in a series of tweets, said he will address the AJK Assembly, a unicameral legislature of elected representatives in Azad Kashmir, to "show solidarity."

[We will] "show solidarity with Kashmiris on Youm-e-Istehsal. Kashmiris in IIOJK [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir] have been subjected to a brutal fascist military siege by India since its illegal actions..."

He will also lead a symbolic walk, lay the foundation stone of a monument to the martyrs of the Kashmir freedom movement, and hold meetings with Kashmiri leaders.

Referring to Pakistan's new political map, Khan said: "We have also depicted the aspirations of the Kashmiri people & our commitment to UNSC resolutions in the political map of Pakistan released yesterday."

The map, unveiled on Tuesday, identifies Kashmir as a "disputed territory" and states that its final status will be decided in line with UN Security Council resolutions.

Separately, Khan termed Kashmir's "military siege and communication blockade" a "crime against humanity."

"Eight million Kashmiris have been made prisoners in their own homes. Their communication with the outside world has been deliberately revoked to hide the scale of human rights violations being perpetrated against them by the Indian occupation forces," he said in a released statement marking the day.

"The extremist and expansionist BJP-RSS combine," Khan said, "was unabashedly pushing the ‘Hindutva’ agenda, seeking to change the demographic structure of the region, and turn its Muslim majority into a minority in blatant violation of relevant UN resolutions and international laws, particularly the fourth Geneva Convention."

"India stands exposed before the world, yet again, as an oppressor and aggressor. Its so-called secular and democratic credentials stand fully discredited, " he went on to say.

Khan said his country would always be with its "brothers and sisters in occupied Kashmir."

"We will never accept, and neither will the Kashmiris, the illegal Indian actions and oppression of the Kashmiri people. India must realize that martyrdom of each Kashmiri and the burning and destruction of each Kashmiri house will only further strengthen the Kashmiris’ resolve for freedom from Indian occupation."


Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

Already strained relations between the two neighbors further plummeted after India's controversial move last year.

On Aug. 5, 2019 the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the state with its autonomy. It was also split into two federally administered territories.

Simultaneously, it locked the region down, detained thousands of people, imposed movement restrictions and enforced a communications blackout.

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