By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - Thousands rallied on Sunday in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar to express solidarity with Kashmiri people following an Indian move to scrap the state's special status.
Organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the country's largest Islamic parties, the rally was the latest in a string of demonstrations held across the country since Aug. 5, when New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which conferred it special status.
The demonstrators carried banners and chanted slogans for the unification of Kashmir with Pakistan and for its independence from India.
"Today, innocent Kashmiri people are looking to Muslims for help but some Islamic countries are honoring the Indian PM [prime minister] with their highest civilians awards" Sirajul Haq, Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami said while addressing the rally. He was referring to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which awarded Indian premier the "Order of Zayed", the highest civilian decoration given by the UAE government during a recent visit.
He criticized the UN for not taking practical steps to stop the Indian government from illegal actions in Kashmir.
Haq praised the Turkish government and the people of Turkey, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Palestine for holding rallies and raising their voices for the Kashmiri people.
"People in Ankara, Istanbul, Kabul, Dhaka and Palestine showed solidarity with Kashmiri people and they should continue to raise their voices for the voiceless Kashmiris," Haq added
He warned that his party would not remain silent if Indian forces carried out violence against Kashmiris in the Indian-administered territory.
Kashmiri leaders and residents fear India's crackdown is an attempt by New Delhi to change the demography of the state, where some groups have been fighting Indian rule for either independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.
According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.