Pakistan's premier Imran Khan visits Kashmir as tensions boil with India
Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled to Pakistani Kashmir on Wednesday where he was expected to issue a fresh challenge to India over its recent power-play which has sent tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours soaring.
His visit to mark the country's Independence Day comes more than a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a surprise executive decree to strip its portion of the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of its special status.
In the wake of the move, Pakistan has launched a diplomatic offensive aimed at reversing the order and formally asked the United Nations Security Council late Tuesday to hold an emergency session to address India's "illegal actions".
Pakistan has also expelled the Indian ambassador, halted bilateral trade and suspended cross-border transport services, however, analysts said the actions were unlikely to move Delhi.
The Indian part of the picturesque Himalayan state has been under lockdown for over a week with tens of thousands of troop reinforcements deployed to the main city of Srinagar and other towns and villages, with a curfew enforced across the region and phone and internet lines cut to quell potential unrest.
Partition of India: The way forward
On 15 August 1947, British India split into two nations – Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. The two countries continue to be hostile towards each other despite some efforts to improve bilateral ties. By Shamil Shams
Birth of two nations: in 1947, British India was divided into two countries – India and Pakistan. Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his All-India Muslim League party had first demanded autonomy for Muslim-majority areas in the undivided India and only later a separate country for Muslims. Jinnah believed that Hindus and Muslims could not continue to live together, as they were distinctly different "nations"
The line of blood: the partition of British India was extremely violent. Following the birth of India and Pakistan, violent communal riots began in many western areas, mostly in Punjab. Historians say that more than a million people died in clashes and millions more migrated from Indian territory to Pakistan and from the Pakistani side to India
The 1948 war: India and Pakistan clashed over Kashmir soon after their independence. The Muslim-majority Kashmir region was ruled by a Hindu leader, but Jinnah wanted it to be part of Pakistani territory. Indian and Pakistani troops fought in Kashmir in 1948, with India taking control of most part of the valley, while Pakistan occupied a smaller area. India and Pakistan continue to clash over Kashmir
Like U.S. and Canada? Liberal historians say that Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi wanted cordial ties between newly independent states. Jinnah, for instance, believed that ties between India and Pakistan should be similar to those between the US and Canada. But after his death in 1948, his successors followed a collision course with New Delhi
The 'other': Indian and Pakistani governments present very different accounts of partition. While India emphasises the Indian National Congress' freedom movement against British rulers – with Gandhi as its main architect – Pakistani textbooks focus on a "struggle" against both British and Hindu "oppression". State propaganda in both countries paints each other as an "enemy" that cannot be trusted
Worsening ties: diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan have remained acrimonious for the past seven decades. The issue of Islamist terrorism has marred relations in the last few years, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of backing Islamist jihadists to wage a war in India-administered Kashmir. India also blames Pakistan-based groups for launching terror attacks on Indian soil. Islamabad denies these claims
The way forward: many young people in both India and Pakistan are urging their governments to improve bilateral ties. Islamabad-based documentary filmmaker Wajahat Malik believes the best way for India and Pakistan to develop a closer relationship is through more interaction between their peoples. "Trade and tourism are the way forward for us. When people come together, the states will follow suit"
Indian authorities vowed to reduce the restrictions on freedom of movement in their portion of Kashmir following the country's own Independence Day celebrations on Thursday.
As tensions simmered with India, Pakistan moved ahead with independence celebrations which began at the stroke of midnight with firework shows lighting up the skies in major cities, where residents jammed the streets waving the national flag from their cars and motorcycles.
In August 1947 the British Raj was dismantled with the subcontinent divided into two independent states – Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan.
Millions were uprooted in one of the largest mass migrations in history, with experts estimating at least one million died in the communal violence unleashed by partition that continues to haunt the subcontinent to this day. (AFP)