Amid the latest crisis between Pakistan and India, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged to support the struggle for self-determination in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday.
Khan traveled to parts of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan to mark his country’s independence day.
“Independence Day is an opportunity for great happiness, but today we are saddened by the plight of our Kashmiri brothers in occupied Jammu and Kashmir who are victims of Indian oppression,” Khan said in a statement ahead of the trip.
“I assure my Kashmiri brothers that we stand with them,” he said.
India, Pakistan, and China all control parts of Kashmir, which is mostly populated by Muslims. Diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Islamabad soured when the Indian government revoked the special status for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The move, which has been pushed by Hindu nationalists, strips the disputed state of rights to make its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property.
India blocks Internet in Kashmir
India also detained a number of state leaders and had troops deploy barricades and razor wire on roads to prevent protests. Internet and phone services were also suspended, prompting residents to communicate with notes and human couriers.
Pakistan responded by expelling India’s ambassador from Islamabad, suspending trade relations with India and launching a diplomatic offensive against New Delhi. On Tuesday, Islamabad demanded a meeting by the UN Security Council to discuss the issue.
Khan’s Wednesday visit serves as another show of solidarity with the Muslim-majority population. The Pakistani prime minister is set to give a speech in the state assembly where he is expected to denounce India’s alleged human rights violations.
dj/stb (Reuters, AP, AFP)