Pakistanis express solidarity by raising Kashmiri flags on Independence Day

1 / 4
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)
2 / 4
Azad Kashmir flags along side Pakistan flags as seen near Rawal Town area of Islamabad on Aug. 13, 2019. (AN photo by SJ)
3 / 4
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)
4 / 4
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
0

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.” 


India defends blocking politicians from visiting Kashmir

Updated 25 August 2019
0

India defends blocking politicians from visiting Kashmir

  • If everything is normal, asks opposition’s Rahul Gandhi, why are Congress leaders not allowed in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Hurriyat Conference has released its first official comment since the clampdown, calling for locals to resist New Delhi’s move 

NEW DELHI: Authorities on Sunday defended blocking opposition Indian politicians from visiting Muslim-majority Kashmir, saying it was to “avoid controversy” weeks after stripping the restive region of its autonomy and imposing a major clampdown.
India’s Hindu-nationalist government has been criticized by the main opposition Congress party over the contentious move on August 5 that brings Kashmir — which has waged an armed rebellion against Indian control since 1989 — under its direct rule.
The region remains under strict lockdown with movement limited and many phone and Internet services cut, although authorities say they have been easing restrictions gradually.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, still a key figure in India as a scion of the powerful Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, was earlier invited by local governor Satya Pal Malik to visit Kashmir.
But a video released by Congress showed Gandhi questioning officials about why he was stopped from entering Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar at the airport on Saturday.
“The governor has said I’m invited. He has invited me so I have come but you’re saying I can’t go,” he said.
“And the government is saying everything is OK, everything is normal. So if everything is normal, why are we not allowed out? It is a bit surprising.”
Regional police chief Dilbagh Singh told AFP police supported the decision.
“In an environment that is getting to normalcy, we didn’t want any controversial statement from anyone. That’s why they were asked to return from the airport itself,” Singh said.
Malik told the ANI news agency he invited Gandhi out of goodwill but that he then politicized the issue.
The controversy came as key separatist group Hurriyat Conference, a coalition of local political parties, released its first official comments since the clampdown and called for locals to “resist at this critical juncture” New Delhi’s move.
“Each and every person must face the naked Indian brutality with courage ... People should organize peaceful protests and demonstrations in their areas of residence,” top separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani said in a statement obtained by AFP.
The Hurriyat Conference, which supports Kashmir’s right to choose whether it wants to be part of India or Pakistan, added that Pakistan and the wider Muslim community should “come forward to ... help the besieged people.”
The call came as India’s home affairs ministry refuted a report by India’s News18 television on Sunday that the region was running out of lifesaving medicines, saying supplies were “slightly higher than the monthly average.”