Imran Khan leads demonstration on Kashmir in bid to win over world opinion

Vastavam web: Cities around Pakistan came to a standstill on Friday as tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets in a government-led demonstration of solidarity with the disputed region of Kashmir, after India revoked its autonomy this month. The Pakistani national anthem and an anthem for Kashmir played across television and radio, while traffic came to a standstill, and trains stopped, as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s campaign to draw global attention to the plight of the divided Himalayan region.

“We are with them in their testing times. The message that goes out of here today is that as long as Kashmiris don’t get freedom, we will stand with them,” Khan told thousands of demonstrators in the capital, Islamabad. Muslim-majority Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Both countries rule parts of Kashmir while claiming it in full. Two of the three wars they have fought have been over it.

Thousands of paramilitary police are deployed in the streets of Srinagar to quell protests stemming from India’s move to revoke a special status for the territory. India stripped Kashmir of the special status on Aug. 5, blocking the right to frame its own laws and allowing non-residents to buy property there. The government said the reform would facilitate Kashmir’s development, to the benefit of all.

But the move angered many residents of the region, which has been under a security clamp-down ever since with telephone lines, internet and television networks blocked and restrictions on movement and assembly.