MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s prime minister assured residents of disputed Kashmir on Friday that he will expose years-long Indian oppression and human rights violations in the region when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly this month.
Imran Khan made the comments in his first speech to a rally in Pakistan-held Kashmir since the revocation of the special status of the disputed Himalayan region by India on Aug. 5. Some 20,000 people took part.
Khan also requested that rally-goers refrain from marching toward the heavily militarized Line of Control that separates Kashmir between Pakistani and Indian sides, saying they should wait for his call.
“Don’t go to the (Line of Control) until I ask you and I will tell you when to do it,” he said.
Khan was attempting to calm down angry youths who this month clashed with police in Pakistan-held Kashmir upon being stopped from marching toward the frontier, where Pakistani and Indian troops are in close quarters.
The appeal to angry youths came days after thousands of unarmed young people marched toward the frontier to protest the lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir, triggering clashes with police.
Pakistani and Indian troops often exchange fire, causing troops and civilian casualties.
The rally also comes a day after the country’s military said Indian fire killed one of its soldiers in Kashmir in the latest cease-fire violation.
Khan urged the world community to pressure India to give the right of self-determination to Kashmiris.
In his speech to rallygoers, Khan said if the people in Kashmir were given the right to decide their future, his country would respect their decision, saying they have faced hardships resulting from a curfew that has been in place in Indian-administered Kashmir since last month.
Tensions between Pakistan and India have increased since Aug. 5, when New Delhi downgraded the autonomy of Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but coveted by both in its entirety.
The two neighbors fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
They nearly went to war again in February, when a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir killed 40 paramilitary soldiers. India at the time responded by bombing an alleged militant training camp in Pakistan. Pakistan then said it shot down two Indian air force planes and captured an Indian pilot who was later released.