Pakistan marks ‘Kashmir Day’ with anti-India rallies

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s political and military leadership on Friday marked the annual Day of Solidarity with Kashmir, vowing to continue political support for those living in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir and for a solution to the disputed region’s status in accordance with U.N. resolutions.

Thousands of people were expected to take part in anti-India rallies across Pakistan, as well as in the portion of Kashmir under Pakistan’s control. Prime Minister Imran Khan was set to deliver a speech later Friday in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-held Kashmir.

Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Kashmiri insurgents in India’s portion of the Himalayan region. Pakistan says it only provides moral and diplomatic support.

Shibli Faraz, Pakistan’s information minister, told The Associated Press that his country would continue to back the Kashmiris until they “succeed in their just struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination.”

“The onus is on India to create an enabling environment by rescinding its illegal and unilateral actions,” Faraz said, referring to India’s revoking of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status in August 2019.

Pakistan has long pushed for Kashmir’s right to self-determination under a U.N. resolution passed in 1948, which called for a referendum on whether Kashmiris wanted to merge with Pakistan or India.

The future of Muslim-majority Kashmir was left unresolved at the end of British colonial rule in 1947, when the Indian subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and mainly Muslim Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir. In 2019, a car bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed 40 Indian soldiers and brought the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war.

India has an estimated 700,000 soldiers in its part of Kashmir, fighting nearly a dozen rebel groups since 1989. In many areas, the region has the feel of an occupied country, with soldiers in full combat gear patrolling streets and frisking civilians. More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.

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