Pakistan braced for protests on Tuesday, a day after India stripped the disputed Kashmir region of its special autonomy in a controversial move that Islamabad has branded as “illegal.”
Demonstrations were set to kick off in the early afternoon with protests planned in Muzaffarabad, the largest city in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, alongside rallies in Lahore, Karachi, and the capital Islamabad.
Pakistani lawmakers also began a joint-session of Parliament to discuss a possible response to Delhi’s move, while a separate meeting by Pakistan’s top military commanders was planned in Rawalpindi.
On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party rushed through a presidential decree to scrap the special status granted to the India-Occupied part of Kashmir from India’s constitution. It also moved a bill proposing the India-Occupied part of the Himalayan region be divided into two regions directly ruled by New Delhi.
The move is set to exacerbate the already bloody rebellion in Kashmir and deepen the long-running animosity with Pakistan, which has fought two out of three wars with India over the territory.
Ahead of the announcements, tens of thousands of extra Indian troops were deployed in the territory, and a security lockdown was imposed overnight Sunday with all telecommunications there cut. Editorials and social media in Pakistan were buzzing over Modi’s decision, with the English daily Dawn running a large headline on its front page reading: “New Delhi sheds fig leaf, robs held Kashmir of special status.”