Citizens in Pakistan will celebrate Independence Day as Kashmir Solidarity Day on Wednesday, August 14. Several countrywide protests are expected to be held on Wednesday, particularly in major cities. Authorities in Islamabad have organized solidarity events on Wednesday and Thursday, August 15, in the D-Chowk area starting at 16:00 (local time) on both days. Residents in Lahore also plan to hold a vigil in solidarity with Kashmir on Wednesday at the Liberty Roundabout starting at 15:00. Other solidarity events are expected to be held in public places in major cities. Associated transportation and business disruptions are likely, as well as a heightened security presence in the affected areas.
Authorities in Pakistan have also called for India's Independence Day on Thursday to be observed as a Black Day with flags flying at half mast. Associated protests are possible throughout Pakistan.
Separatists have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989. Around 70,000 people have been killed and many more injured in related violence, uprisings, and military crackdowns. Indian security personnel have been conducting frequent security operations and have clashed with suspected militants in recent months.
Following a cabinet meeting on August 5, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah proposed to parliament that Article 370 in the Constitution, which granted Jammu and Kashmir a special status, be revoked. He also proposed that Jammu and Kashmir be reorganized as a Union Territory with an Assembly, and Ladakh be a separate Union Territory with no legislature.
Pakistan responded on August 7-8 by downgrading diplomatic relations with India, restricting its airspace to Indian carriers, and suspending bilateral trade between the two states.
Individuals in Pakistan are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid discussing sensitive political topics in public or online, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
Some Western governments advise their citizens against travel to parts of Kashmir, notably including areas along the Line of Control (LoC), due to the significant risk of violence.
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