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Pakistan: End to Jammu Kashmir blockade demanded

KARACHI, Pakistan

A multi-party conference held in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad on Monday demanded an immediate end to a communication and security lockdown imposed by India in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region after the scrapping of its longstanding special rights last August.

The conference presided by Raja Farooq Haider, the premier of Pakistani-administered Azad Kashmir, was attended by all the major political and religious parties based in the Pakistani side of the disputed valley, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the Pakistan Peoples Party, Jamat-e-Islami, and others.

Expressing concern over the continuing detention of the pro-freedom leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabbir Shah, Yasin Malik, Asiya Andrabi, and others, the conference urged the international community to press India to end the lockdown, a joint statement said.

The parties vowed that the people of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir would continue to support the “just struggle of Kashmiris for their right to self-determination.”

Long-fraught relations between the two South Asian nuclear rivals flared up further after India scrapped the special provisions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and imposed a near-complete lockdown on Aug. 5.

Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

Indian authorities, however, say daytime restrictions have been lifted in the region, a claim Anadolu Agency has not been able to confirm.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan which have fought two wars over Kashmir.

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