Pakistan braces itself for protests against India moves in Kashmir

People rally during a protest in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, on Aug 5, 2019, after the Indian government removed the special constitutional semi-autonomous status granted to the region of Kashmir, which both India and
People rally during a protest in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, on Aug 5, 2019, after the Indian government removed the special constitutional semi-autonomous status granted to the region of Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan braced for protests on Tuesday (Aug 6), a day after India stripped the disputed Kashmir region of its special autonomy in a controversial move that Islamabad has branded as "illegal".

Demonstrations were set to kick off in the early afternoon with protests planned in Muzaffarabad, the largest city in Pakistani-held Kashmir, alongside rallies in Lahore, Karachi, and the capital Islamabad.

Pakistani lawmakers also began a joint-session of Parliament to discuss a possible response to Delhi's move, while a separate meeting by Pakistan's top military commanders was planned in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist party rushed through a presidential decree to scrap the special status granted to the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir from India's Constitution.

It also moved a Bill proposing the Indian-administered part of the Himalayan region be divided into two regions directly ruled by New Delhi.

The move is set to exacerbate the already bloody rebellion in Kashmir and deepen the long-running animosity with nuclear rival Pakistan, which has fought two out of three wars with India over the territory.

Ahead of the announcements, tens of thousands of extra Indian troops were deployed in the territory, and a security lockdown was imposed overnight on Sunday, with all telecommunications there cut.

Editorials and social media in Pakistan were buzzing over Mr Modi's decision, with the English daily Dawn running a large headline on its front page reading: "New Delhi sheds fig leaf, robs held Kashmir of special status."