World Bulletin / News Desk
Pakistan has said it is seriously concerned over the detention of senior figures in Jammu and Kashmir's independence movement in a bid to prevent them from attending Pakistan National Day reception at its High Commission in New Delhi on Thursday.
"Pakistan expresses its serious concern on arrest/detention of Hurriyat Conference leaders, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Asiya Andrabi and others, in the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, preventing them from attending Pakistan National Day reception at Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi on March 23," said a statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry on Wednesday.
These arbitrary restrictions, the statement added, were against the principles of democracy and freedom of movement.
“We impress upon India to release the Kashmiri leaders and representatives from Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir so that they are able to attend Pakistan National Day reception," the statement concluded.
Tensions between the two nuclear neighbors have failed to ease after 19 Indian soldiers were killed in Indian-held Kashmir last September by militants India has claimed had links to Pakistan.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is occupied by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the occupied region.