As Pakistan marks its 72nd independence day, Prime Minister Imran Khan has paid a visit to Kashmir to reaffirm his support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.
Khan’s visit came more than a week after neighbouring India stripped the Muslim-majority region of its special status.
Since the decree, issued on August 5, Indian authorities have imposed an unprecedented lockdown in the region – cutting off communication lines and restricting movement – now in its tenth day.
But in his anniversary address, Khan criticized India for its actions.
“Independence day is an opportunity for great happiness, but today we are saddened by the plight of our Kashmiri brothers in occupied Jammu and Kashmir who are victims of Indian oppression,” Khan said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I assure my Kashmiri brothers that we stand with them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi has also described India’s downgrading of Kashmir’s status as a violation of international law.
Pakistan’s government also said India’s independence day on Thursday will be observed as a “Black Day” this year, with flags on government buildings flown at half-mast to protest India’s decision.
Prime Minister Khan is expected to address the state assembly in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, later on Wednesday.