“Azadi March” Arrives in Pakistan-Controlled Kashmir

  • Talks were held between the Pakistan-administered Kashmir government and the protesters, who could not reach an agreement.
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to the people not to cross the LoC.
  • India has imposed strict sanctions on India-administered Kashmir by ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir two months ago.

The ‘Azadi March’, which originated from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, is nearing the Line of Control (LOC). Pakistani troops have stopped the march six kilometers from the Line of Control. Those involved in the march spent the night on the road and have claimed to be heading back to the border in the morning.

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) is a political organisation active in both Pakistan-administered and Indian-administered Kashmir. After 1994, the JKLF in Kashmir Valley, under the leadership of Yasin Malik, declared an ‘indefinite ceasefire’ and reportedly disbanded its military wing.

Meanwhile, talks were held between the Pakistan-administered Kashmir government and the protesters, who could not reach an agreement. Activists from the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) began marching three days ago from Muzaffarabad. India has imposed strict sanctions on India-administered Kashmir by ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir two months ago. The march is being held in protest against India’s decision.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to the people not to cross the LoC. “This is not a LoC. This is a bloody line that has been given the name of the LoC,” said lawyer Shama Tariq Khan, a businessman involved in hundreds of thousands of people from across the border who were rioting against India. “We want to cross this line. This is our home, we want to get up from one of our rooms and move to another room. We are going to our home, Kashmir,” Khan said.

Shahbaz Kashmiri, an activist affiliated with JKLF, says, “Inshallah we are going to break the border, we want to send a message to the world that they too should leave their homes and protest.” Explaining the purpose of the protest march, Danish activist Sania said, “We want independence from both our region and India.” Sania added, “Our territory was occupied on October 22, 1947. We have come for the independence of our region. Our special status 35A, under which no one can buy our land, has been stripped. We want to protect it. The land has been preserved by our ancestors for seven thousand years. We want to protect it.”

Demonstrators are also demanding UN intervention. Shama Tariq Khan says, “there is Indian Army on this side, Pakistan Army on this side. No UN proposal can stop us from going that far. There is no violation of law in what we are doing. We want the UN to intervene in this.” The Independence March has stopped the Pakistani administration near Chinari, six kilometers from the Chichotti checkpoint. To prevent the march, containers have been installed on the road and barbed wire has been laid.

Neither India nor Pakistan has formally recognised the accession of the areas claimed by the other. India claims those areas, including the area “ceded” to China by Pakistan in the Trans-Karakoram Tract in 1963, are a part of its territory, while Pakistan claims the entire region excluding Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract.

After the administration stopped the march, the protesters also sat on the road leading to Srinagar and Udi. Meanwhile, talks have been held between the demonstrator leader and the administration but no explanation has been reached.

However, most of the people involved in the march are determined to move across the border. “We want to go to Srinagar by crossing the bloody line that divides Kashmir,” one protester, who was refreshed by the rain and cold said. In the meantime, there was a nightly conversation between Pakistani officials and JKLF leaders. “We talked to the administration after seeing the obstruction in our road. We have requested the bottlenecks to be removed.”

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.


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