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‘We Stand With You,’ Pakistani Leaders Tell Kashmiris As Country Marks Independence Day


Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)

In a statement marking Pakistan’s Independence Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed solidarity with people living in Indian-administered Kashmir, saying they are "victims of Indian oppression."

"Independence Day is an opportunity for great happiness, but today we are saddened by the plight of our Kashmiri brothers," Khan said on August 14, adding: "I assure my Kashmiri brothers that we stand with them."

President Arif Alvi delivered a similar message during a ceremony in Islamabad, saying: "We have remained with them, we are with them today, and will continue to do so."

Later in the day, Khan delivered an address before the legislative assembly in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir, saying: "I will be the ambassador who raises Kashmir's voice around the world."

Pakistan Celebrates Independence Day Amid Kashmir Tension
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The Indian side of the predominantly Muslim region has been on lockdown since last week when New Delhi revoked an article in the Indian Constitution that guaranteed the region greater autonomy than other states in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the move will allow India to rid the region it administers of "terrorism and separatism."

Tens of thousands of people have died in a three decades-old insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir.

Urgent Meeting?

Calling India's move illegal under international law, Pakistan retaliated by suspending bilateral trade and all public transport links with its neighbor, as well as expelling New Delhi's ambassador to Islamabad.

Pakistan has also requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss India’s "recent aggressive actions."

Jacek Czaputowicz, the foreign minister of Poland, which holds the council presidency this month, said members would discuss the request.

Czaputowicz noted that "strained relations between India and Pakistan negatively affect the whole South Asia region."

Meanwhile, India’s nationalist-led government said on August 13 that is easing its lockdown in a "phased manner" after cutting off mobile, landline, and Internet networks.

Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India, but it is claimed in full by both countries.

The two nuclear-armed powers have fought two wars over the region since their 1947 independence from British rule.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, Dawn, and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
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