Islamabad, Aug 5 (efe-epa).- Pakistan on Wednesday witnessed a day of marches, speeches and acts of protest on the first anniversary of India abrogating the autonomy of Kashmir, a region disputed between the two neighboring nuclear powers.
“I want to pay tribute to the people of Kashmir who have suffered all along,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said in the provincial assembly of Azad Kashmir – the part of the region controlled by Pakistan – situated in regional capital Muzaffarabad.
Khan said that “freedom” was in sight for the Kashmiris living on the Indian side of the border, and called the revocation of the semi-autonomous status of the region a “big mistake” by New Delhi.
“He is spreading hatred against humans but (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is exposed in the world today,” said Khan, who has compared his Indian counterpart with Hitler on many occasions.
A march was held to mark the occasion in Islamabad, led by President Arif Alvi and Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
“India has learned how to change the demography from Israel,” Alvi said in a speech, referring to Delhi’s alleged plan to allow people from the rest of India to settle in Kashmir, an act which was not allowed until a year ago.
Protests were held across numerous cities in Pakistan on the occasion, dubbed as the “exploitation day” by the government.
India-administered Kashmir is the only Muslim majority region in India with marked separatist sentiments within its population, and its semi-autonomous status had allowed it to run a regional government with its own constitution, regional citizenship, a flag and other special arrangements for nearly 70 years.
However, the Modi-led Indian government took away the special rights and powers on Aug. 5 , 2019 and divided and downgraded the Himalayan region into two federally-ruled territories.
On Tuesday Islamabad had unveiled a new political map of the country which for the first time included large parts of the India-administered Jammu and Kashmir region.
The Pakistani government also criticized Modi laying the foundation stone for a controversial temple of Hindu god Ram, which also took place on Wednesday in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya, coinciding with the dissolution of semi-autonomous Kashmir.
The temple is set to be built on the site of a 16th century mosque which was demolished by fanatic Hindu mobs in 1992.
“Pakistan reiterates its strong condemnation of construction of ‘Ram Mandir(temple)’ on the site where historic Babri Masjid stood for around five centuries,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.
India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over Kashmir since 1947, claim the divided territory in its entirety but rule its parts. China also claims at least parts of the territory. EFE-EPA