No trust in Pakistan: Why the JKLF led Azadi march turned out to be a damp squib in PoK
New Delhi, Oct 07: The Azadi march from the various locations in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) to the Line of Control turned out to be damp squib. Indian officials who were keeping a close watch on the march said that there were hardly around 4,000 to 5,000 people who turned up for the march as against the estimated 1 lakh.
Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5.
The call for the march was made by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. Officials say that the programme was altered several times due to the lack of support and people. Officials also say that one of the main reasons for this march to turn out to be a damp squib was because Pakistan has not been able to garner enough support on the Kashmir issue. Hence it basically a matter of distrust the official also added.
The demonstrators, mostly youngsters, resumed their march from Garhi Dupatta where they had reached on Saturday from Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
They were moving on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar Highway, but the authorities blocked the road by putting containers and barbed wires at Jiskool, which is almost 6-8 kilometres from the LoC.
Some of the protestors tried to remove the barbed wires but were stopped by police. Others tried to circumvent the blockage by climbing the steep mountains but could not do so as heavy contingent of police was deployed to foil any such attempt.
The protest march has been organised by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). A local JKLF leader Rafiq Dar told the media that they would try to convince the authorities to let them go up to Chakothi - a village about 3 kilometres from the LoC.
"I hope they will allow us carry on our peaceful march to the town of Chakothi. Our march is peaceful and we do not want any kind of confrontation," he said.
Dar said UN Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan had also contacted them. He said the UN was urged to persuade India and Pakistan to not use force against peaceful protestors.
Dubbed as the 'freedom march', the organisers have announced to cross the LoC to defy the line dividing Kashmir and show support for the people of Kashmir.
The protestors were chanting mostly anti-India slogans and most of their banners carried anti-India messages.
The protestors started the march on Friday from different parts of PoK and got together in Muzafarabad from where they started moving towards the LoC on Saturday but stayed for overnight at Garhi Dupatta.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged US Senator Chris Van Hollen to visit areas on the two sides of the LoC to see the ground situation.
Hollen, along with US Charge d'Affaires Ambassador Paul Jones, travelled to Multan on Saturday afternoon to meet with Qureshi, the Foreign Office said in statement issued after midnight.
Qureshi appreciated Senator's leadership role in proposing an amendment to the Senate Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2020 that explicitly expresses concern about the "humanitarian crisis in Kashmir."