Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday called on the country to join mass demonstrations to protest Delhi’s actions in Indian-administred-Kashmir as tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals continued to boil.
“I want all Pakistanis to come out tomorrow 12 noon-12.30 pm to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people,” Khan wrote on Twitter, adding: “We must send a strong message to Kashmiris that our nation stands resolutely behind them.”
The call to join protests today repeated earlier demands from Khan for Pakistanis to begin holding weekly nationwide rallies until the prime minister departs for the United Nations General Assembly next month, where he vowed to act as an ambassador for all Kashmiris.
Tensions have been soaring between Islamabad and Delhi for weeks in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to strip India’s portion of Kashmir of its autonomy and bring it under direct rule.
Kashmir has been divided between the two countries since independence, and has been the spark for two major wars and countless clashes between the arch-rivals.
In February, the neighbouring countries again came close to all-out conflict, after a militant attack in Indian-held Kashmir was claimed by a group based in Pakistan, igniting tit-for-tat air strikes.
Khan’s renewed calls for protests came as the Pakistani military announced earlier yesterday the testing of a surface-to-surface ballistic missile, with the army’s spokesman saying the weapon was “capable of delivering multiple types of warheads”.
India reacted angrily to Khan’s call for nationwide action.
“This is intended to project an alarmist situation which is far from ground realities,” foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a regular press briefing.
In recent weeks, both countries have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefires and seeking to provoke conflict in what is one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoints.