No Joy This Year as Nuclear-Armed Powers Observe Independence Days

Srinagar, Kashmir, remains under lockdown by India Wednesday for a 10th straight day. (AP photo/ Dar Yasin)

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s prime minister on Wednesday assured Kashmiri people that he supports them in their struggle for self-determination against India.

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned New Delhi’s decision Aug. 5 to downgrade Kashmir’s status, as he began celebrations of Pakistan’s independence day.

Khan is observing the day in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir to express solidarity with Kashmiris on the Indian-controlled side. He will make a speech in the Legislative Assembly to denounce Indian human rights violations in Kashmir.

India and Pakistan gained independence in 1947 when British colonialists left the subcontinent. The next year, they fought the first of two wars over control of Kashmir. It ended with the region divided between them, though both claim it entirely.

India has maintained an unprecedented security lockdown for 10 days to try to stave off a violent reaction to Kashmir’s downgraded status. Protests and clashes have occurred daily, though the curfew and communications blackout have meant the reaction is largely subdued, or appears to be.

Pakistan has called for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council, saying the move by India’s Hindu nationalist-led government threatens international peace and could lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Poland holds the council presidency this month and Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said members would discuss the letter.

Pakistan’s president, celebrating Pakistan’s independence in Islamabad, condemned India’s downgrading of Kashmir’s status as a violation of international law and said Pakistan “will not leave Kashmiri people alone.”

India celebrates its independence on Thursday and was completing preparations for the festivities in New Delhi and in Indian-administered Kashmir on the tenth day of a near-total security lockdown in the Himalayan region. The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday.

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