PoK marchers head towards LoC to protest abrogation of Article 370

The Centre on August 5 abrogated Article 370 which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two Union Territories

A large number of people from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) are marching towards the Line of Control (LoC) on Sunday (October 6) to protest India’s move to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday (October 5) warned the protesters not to cross the LoC, saying anyone crossing the LoC to provide humanitarian aid or support for Kashmiris will “play into the hands of the Indian narrative.”

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

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Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

The marchers, mostly youngsters, reached from Muzaffarabad, the capital of the PoK, to Garhi Dupatta on Saturday where they stayed overnight. They are moving on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar Highway.

Also read | Crack down on Kashmir media unnerves journos, hits news gathering

The protest march has been organised by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). A local JKLF leader Rafiq Dar told the media that UN Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan had also contacted them.

He said the UN was urged to persuade India and Pakistan to not use force against peaceful protestors. The protesters have announced to cross the LoC. They are expected to reach Chakothi where they will be stopped by the authorities, sources said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged US Senator Chris Van Hollen to visit areas on the two sides of the LoC to see the ground situation.

Hollen, along with US Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Paul Jones, travelled to Multan on Saturday afternoon to meet with Qureshi, the Foreign Office said in statement issued after midnight.

Qureshi appreciated Senators leadership role in proposing an amendment to the Senate Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2020 that explicitly expresses concern about the “humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.”

Also read | NC delegation from Jammu allowed to meet Abdullahs on Sunday

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