Pakistanis have staged a rally in solidarity with independence-seeking people in Indian-controlled Kashmir, censuring a decision by the US to blacklist a popular Kashmiri leader, a move they view as a show of support for New Delhi in the dispute over the Himalayan region.
On Sunday, thousands of people took to the streets of the Pakistani capital Islamabad to voice their anger at the US for designating pro-independence Kashmiri militant commander Syed Salahuddin as a “global terrorist” late last month.
Addressing the participants, speakers from the Jamaat-e-Islami group, which had organized the rally, slammed New Delhi for suppressing the people of Kashmir in the Indian-administered part of the disputed region.
The protesters also criticized the international community for remaining silent in the face of what they called Indian human rights violations and “war crimes” against Kashmiris.
The protesters further denounced Washington leaders for siding with India by branding the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant leader as a “global terrorist.”
They said Kashmir’s independence struggle should not be equated with terrorism as the people of the state have been promised self-determination as well as an opportunity to decide their faith, as enshrined in UN resolutions.
The organizers also said Kashmir is a disputed territory, according to the UN Security Council’s resolutions, and its future must be decided by the people of the area through a UN-sponsored referendum.
The Islamabad demonstration came a day after people in the India-ruled part of Kashmir marked the first anniversary of the death of pro-independence Kashmiri militant leader Burhan Wani, who was killed during a gunfight with Indian troops last July.
Violent clashes broke out on Saturday between Indian troops and Kashmiri protesters, who had taken to the streets amid tight security.
Activists in the Pakistani city of Karachi also held a protest rally on Saturday in solidarity with the Kashmiris.
Tensions are high in the Indian-administrated Kashmir region, where the Muslim-majority population stages regular protests against Indian rule and demands autonomy from New Delhi.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two partitioned and gained independence from colonial Britain in 1947. The two countries have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory.
India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants and allowing them across the restive frontier in an attempt to launch attacks on Indian forces. Pakistan strongly denies the allegations.