ISLAMABAD - As thousands of people from Azad Kashmir began marching toward the Indian-occupied part of Kashmir to protest the prolonged lockdown, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday warned against crossing the highly militarized de facto border saying it will help the Indian narrative.

“I understand the anguish of people of Azad Kashmir seeing their fellow Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir under an inhumane curfew for over two months”, the prime minister said in a tweet.

“But any one crossing the LoC (Line of Control) from AJK (Azad Jammu and Kashmir) to provide humanitarian aid or support for Kashmiri struggle will play into the hands of the Indian narrative – a narrative that tries to divert [attention] from the indigenous Kashmiris' struggle against brutal Indian occupation by trying to label it as 'Islamic terrorism' being driven by Pakistan," he remarked.

It will give India an excuse to increase violent oppression of Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) and mount attacks across the LoC into AJK, Khan added.

Earlier in September, Imran Khan had said that any bid to “wage (self-acclaimed) jihad in Kashmir” would be an act of extreme enmity towards the Kashmiris. “Anyone, who thinks that he will cross the border to join the Kashmiris fighting for their right, is a big enemy of them and Pakistan,” he had said.

Frustration, anger and fear have been growing in occupied Kashmir since August 5, when the Hindu nationalist-led government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a curfew and a communications blackout.

The Indian government deployed thousands of troops to the already heavily militarised region to quell potential dissent. It also cut off internet access, put politicians under house arrest and shut down schools.

The lockdown and communications blackout entered 62nd day on Saturday, and there were no signs of India scaling it back, despite calls from the international community to end the blockade.

Toqeer Gillani, a leader of Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front, said on Saturday the group will cross the frontier near Chakoti. He said they would spend the night at the midway point and resume their on-foot journey early Sunday.

But senior police officer Arshad Naqvi said no one would be allowed to get to the Line of Control due to security concerns.

Besides committing war crimes in IoK, Indian forces routinely violate the ceasefire and fire into the AJK from across the LoC, killing and wounding innocent citizens living there.

After the August 5 illegal move, India sent in tens of thousands of extra troops and detained thousands of people including minors as young as nine.

Many of the region’s top politicians remain in custody. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said last month she was “deeply concerned” while Washington has called for a “rapid” lifting of restrictions.

FO response

The Foreign Office of Pakistan on Saturday rejected the comments made by the spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statements on Kashmir and other Pakistan-India issues, advising the neighboring country to face the truth over its actions driven by an extremist ideology and hegemonic designs.

In a press release, the spokesperson for the Foreign Office reminded that exposing India’s egregious behaviour and state-terrorism in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir was part of Pakistan’s international obligations and their moral responsibility to the Kashmiri victims of Indian repression. “India would be well-advised to keep its lectures on diplomacy and normality to itself. All we would like to stress is, “Physician, heal thyself!” it added.

The spokesperson said, “If India feels provoked, it is only because India is unwilling to face the truth about its indefensible actions that are driven by the toxic mix of an extremist ideology and hegemonic ambitions.”

It said equally reprehensible were India’s pretensions of casting itself as a ‘normal’ country. The international community would like to ask as to what normal country caged 8 million people in an inhuman lockdown for over two months and deceived the world by claiming that “everything is fine.”

“Similarly, what normal country provides space and political patronage to the perpetrators of mob lynchings by cow vigilantes and repugnant schemes like gharwapsi,” it added.