Imran visits Azad Kashmir as tensions deepen with India

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 14:23, Aug 14, 2019 | Updated : 15:29, Aug 14, 2019

Upon arrival in Muzaffarabad, Pakistani premier Imran Khan was received by AJK`s President Sardar Masood Khan and Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled to Azad Kashmir on Wednesday where he was expected to issue a fresh challenge to India over its recent power-play which has sent tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours soaring.

In the wake of the move, Pakistan has launched a diplomatic offensive aimed at reversing the order and formally asked the United Nations Security Council late Tuesday to hold an emergency session to address India's "illegal actions."

Pakistan has also expelled the Indian ambassador, halted bilateral trade and suspended cross-border transport services, however, analysts said the actions were unlikely to move Delhi.

Earlier, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan used an address celebrating Independence Day on Wednesday to criticise India for its actions in the disputed Kashmir.

India revoked the special status of its portion of Himalayan Kashmir, known as Jammu and Kashmir, on Aug. 5 and moved to quell widespread unrest by shutting down communications and clamping down on freedom of movement.

"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.

"I assure my Kashmiri brothers that we stand with them," he said.

A woman walks with a Kashmir`s flag to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, during a ceremony to celebrate Pakistan`s 72nd Independence Day at the Mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, Pakistan August 14, 2019. REUTERSIndia rules the populous Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu city, while Pakistan controls a wedge of territory in the west known as Azad Kashmir. China holds a thinly populated high-altitude area in the north.

India's revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir blocks the state's right to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has said old laws prohibiting people from outside Kashmir from buying property, settling there and taking up government jobs had hindered its development.

Restrictions were lifted in five districts of Jammu and relaxed in nine Kashmir districts on Monday, India's home ministry said. It said there would be heightened security for both Pakistan and India's Independence Day celebrations and for Muslim Friday prayers.

In Islamabad, posters urged residents to express solidarity with Kashmiris and roadside vendors sold Azad Kashmir flags as well as the Pakistan flag commonly displayed on Aug. 14.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power Great Britain in 1947, They came close to a third in February after a deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in airstrikes by both countries.

Pakistan's government has also said India's Independence Day, which falls on Aug. 15, will be observed as a "Black Day" this year, with flags on government buildings flown at half-mast to protest against India's decision.