Thousands of people in Pakistan took to the streets Friday in mass demonstrations protesting India’s recent decision to revoke the special status of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Traffic around the country stopped for several minutes as the anthems of Pakistan and Kashmir were played on state media at noon.
Prime Minister Imran Khan told the assembled crowd in Islamabad, the capital: “The message that goes out of here today is that as long as Kashmiris don’t get freedom, we will stand with them.”
The Indian action to cancel the special status for the country’s only Muslim-majority state was accompanied by a wide-ranging curfew and communications blackout, cutting off millions of Kashmiris from the rest of the world. Indian media reports say nearly 4,000 political leaders, activists and civil society representatives have been arrested.
The Indian government defends its actions in Kashmir as important for the region’s development and said they will benefit all.
India’s Kashmir-related moves have prompted Khan to repeatedly describe the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as fascist and supremacist. Khan has also compared the Modi government with Nazi Germany and has alleged that Modi’s actions pose a threat to both Pakistan and religious minorities in India.
Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought two wars over the region, while skirmishes across the de facto Kashmir border, known as the Line of Control, have become an almost daily routine.
Voice of America – English
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