Hindus and Christians unite to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day

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Pakistanis take part in Independence Day celebrations in Quetta on August 14, 2019, as the nation marks the 73rd anniversary of independence from British rule. (AFP)
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A man rides a motorbike with a Pakistani national flag during Independence Day celebrations in Peshawar on August 14, 2019, as the nation marks the 73rd anniversary of independence from British rule. (AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019
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Hindus and Christians unite to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day

  • It’s an occasion that reminds us to work toward national growth, Hindu lawmaker says
  • Christian community vows to stand by country always

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan marked its 73rd Independence Day on Wednesday, citizens from all walks of life and faith joined hands to celebrate the occasion by organizing events in various parts of the country.
“Let us join hands to move our beloved country toward peace and stability, as well as to ensure long-term economic development and prosperity,” Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party told Arab News.
He added that it’s an occasion which reminds us to work toward national growth and development “to realize the dream of our founding fathers.”
“Let’s show solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been offering huge sacrifices for the last 73 years,” Kumar said.
Meanwhile, a Facebook message posted by the All Pakistan Christian Community wished everyone on the occasion, adding: “Whatever the condition or situation is, Pakistani Christians will always stand by Pakistan and the armed forces of Pakistan.”
During a joint session of parliament, on August 6, certain representatives from the Hindu community made a flag with 60,000 green and white balloons which was showcased at the National Assembly Hall. The initiative, undertaken by the Pakistan Hindu Council, was the result of five days of hard work.
On August 11 every year, Pakistan observes the National Minorities’ Day. In this year’s messages, both President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the country could not aspire to achieve progress unless its nation had unity in its ranks.
PM Khan further renewed his pledge to work toward the welfare and wellbeing of minorities living in Pakistan, adding that their love for the country was exemplary and unquestionable.
He added that Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah had detailed a policy for minorities in Pakistan which his government was determined to fulfill. “We will keep our promise of complete religious freedom and equal opportunities for minorities to ensure their progress and development,” he said.


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.