People gathered in mosques across Pakistan on Monday to offer special prayers for Eidul Azha. The government has called for the festival to be observed in a “simple manner” this year, to express solidarity with Kashmiris living in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
On Aug 5, India dropped a constitutional provision that had allowed Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws, and also broke up the state into two federally administered territories. Before moving a rushed presidential order in its Senate, New Delhi placed Kashmiri leaders under house arrest and imposed a strict curfew.
The changes are the most sweeping in the nearly 30 years that India has been battling an uprising in occupied Kashmir.
Islamabad had expelled India's ambassador and suspended trade in anger at New Delhi's latest move.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi travelled to Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, to offer Eid prayers at a mosque there.
“(I) have come here to express Pakistan's solidarity with you,” Qureshi told worshippers.
In the southern city of Karachi, prayers were dedicated to Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir.
“We are together with our Kashmiri brothers,” said resident Mohammad Adnan. “We share their pain and grief. Today, special prayers were offered for them inside the mosque."
Eidul Azha or the “festival of sacrifice” is celebrated each year on the 10th day of the 12th and last month of the lunar Islamic calendar.
As many as 10 million animals worth up to $3 billion are sacrificed during the festival, the Pakistan Tanners' Association says.
Revoking Article 370
India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party last week stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. An indefinite curfew — that has entered its eighth day — was imposed in occupied Kashmir and elected leaders were put under house arrest.
By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in IoK and settle there permanently. Kashmiris as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
Furthermore, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also president of the BJP, moved a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories — one, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and the other, Ladakh — to be directly ruled by New Delhi.