Pakistanis express solidarity by raising Kashmiri flags on Independence Day

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Flag of Azad Kashmir flutters in the wind outside a house in Chak Shahzad neighborhood of Islamabad on Aug. 13, 2019. (AN photo by SJ)
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Azad Kashmir flags along side Pakistan flags as seen near Rawal Town area of Islamabad on Aug. 13, 2019. (AN photo by SJ)
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To see AJK flag alongside Pakistani flags on Independence Day is “an emotional and proud moment for Kashmiris” says activist, Fatima Anwar. Photo taken at Park Road, Chak Shahzad, on Aug. 11, 2019. (AN photo by SJ)
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Islamabad city brimming with flags of Azad Kashmir along with Pakistan flag ahead of Independence Day. Photo taken at Park Road, Chak Shahzad, on Aug. 11, 2019. (AN photo by SJ)
Updated 14 August 2019
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Pakistanis express solidarity by raising Kashmiri flags on Independence Day

  • Government had urged the nation to hoist Kashmir flag along with Pakistan's national flag to express support for Kashmiris
  • Hundreds of Kashmir flags were sold in just three days in Islamabad, vendor says

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in decades, the capital city of Islamabad is brimming with flags of Pakistan alongside a different flag with the similar star and crescent on green background, green and white stripes and gold color. This is the flag of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) that can be seen at stalls and shops all across the country ahead of the 73rd Independence Day symbolizing the emotions of Pakistanis toward the Kashmir issue and the right to “self-determination.”
“It is surprising to see the number of people buying AJK flags here in Islamabad. We run out of Kashmir flags every day” says a flag vendor, Abdul Khaliq, who has sold about a hundred flags in three days in Chak Shahzad neighborhood of Islamabad.
To see Pakistanis raising flags of Azad Kashmir alongside Pakistan’s national flag is “an emotional and proud moment for Kashmiris”, Pakistani Kashmiri activist, Fatima Anwar, told Arab News. “The two flags together symbolize the love and affection among Pakistanis and Kashmiris. It proves that the support of people and government of Pakistan for Kashmiris goes beyond verbal and moral rhetoric.”
Anwar, the 26-year-old activist, has also requested Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the Muslim world leaders to play an active role in resolving the current crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. “We want Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to come forward [for Kashmiris], otherwise peace in South Asia and rest of the world will remain only a dream,” she appealed. Fatima described the Indian government’s move to revoke Article 370 of the Indian Constitution without the approval of Kashmiris as “illegal,” adding that the Kashmiri people would never accept it.
Pakistan has announced to observe its Independence Day on August 14 as Kashmir Solidarity Day and August 15th as Black Day to express solidarity with Kashmiris after India altered the status of disputed Jammu and Kashmir. 
Pakistan supports what it describes as the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determination in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council through a free and impartial plebiscite. Pakistan has strongly condemned India’s “illegal and unilateral” move taken on August 5 and also downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended bilateral trade with India.
The flag of Pakistan is raised in Indian-administered Kashmir during protests and festive occasions such as Pakistan’s win over India in cricket matches but now Kashmiris are asking Pakistanis to raise their flag to show support. 
“By holding the Kashmiri flag with the Pakistani flag on Independence Day, Pakistanis can send out a strong message of solidarity to the world” said a young Kashmiri student from Indian-administered Kashmir requesting anonymity. He urged Pakistan to play its role in Jammu and Kashmir’s “struggle for right to self-determination.”
The passions are running high in Pakistan as flags of Kashmir can be seen fluttering all across the country including the southern-most city of Karachi battered by heavy rain.
“There is in fact a shortage of AJK flags in my neighborhood as I was told by the vendor to go to Lighthouse in Saddar area to get one” Rayyan Mirza, 20, resident of Gulistan-e-Johar area of Karachi, told Arab News. In the busiest Lighthouse market, he claims, the vendors have sold thousands of AJK flags of all sizes in a week’s time. “This shows our love for Kashmir which is our “sheh rug” (jugular vein),” he claimed.
Recalling a conversation at the flag stall between a boy and his father, Rayyan said, “when this little boy asked why everyone is buying Kashmir flags this year, his father replied ‘because our Kashmiri brothers and sisters are struggling for the rights that we already have and we raise their flag to support them’.” In that moment, Rayyan says, he felt more proud than ever as a Pakistani. “I have never felt as grateful on an Independence Day as now. This August 14 has become such a significant day for me as I realized that the freedom and privileges I enjoy as Pakistani are not accessible to millions of people.” 


Jammu and Kashmir: A disputed state under siege 

Updated 22 August 2019
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Jammu and Kashmir: A disputed state under siege 

  • New Delhi fears protests if communication is restored and presence of troops scaled down in Kashmir
  • There is widespread anger and resentment among the people of the disputed region

SRINAGAR: It’s been more than two weeks since Indian administered Kashmir has been facing a security lockdown and prohibitory order. 
Markets in major parts of the Muslim majority region of Jammu and Kashmir are shut amid a communication blackout. 
Kashmiris have been barred from using any form of technology to communicate and denied even a basic phone call.
New Delhi’s decision on August 5 to abrogate two articles of the Indian constitution, Article 370 and 35-A, that gave the disputed state a special autonomous status under the Indian union has brought the Kashmir valley to a standstill.
The Modi administration has imposed strict prohibitor orders, reinforcing parliamentary troops to man each and every nook and corner of the valley.
The administration governing the Kashmiri districts relaxed the prohibitory order on August 19, allowing schools to reopen. It also restored some telephone landlines.
However, protests in some parts of Srinagar and Kashmiri towns forced the government to reimpose the communication ban. 
The schools remain empty days after reopening. 
People are gripped in fear. Uncertainty looms. Reports suggest that grieved communities have resorted to civil disobedience by keeping markets shuttered down and not sending their children to school.
There is widespread anger and resentment among the people. Majority of the Kashmiris feel let down by the government’s decision to strike down the special status passing a rush decree to annex their state without holding a plebiscite.
They say that their identity has been attacked and it’s not possible to live under abject humiliation.
Modi’s government fears large scale protests and resistance if communication is fully restored and the presence of troops is scaled down. 
If violence erupts, New Delhi fears that it stands to lose its political narrative domestically and internationally.
Jammu and Kashmir remains on edge. A disputed state divided between, India and Pakistan but fully claimed by both is under siege on New Delhi’s orders which has violated the UN charter.
It remains to be seen how long the Indian paramilitary forces will be able to contain the growing anger and angst among the local populace of the Muslim-majority region under Indian rule.