The ugly face of Pakistan’s military-backed government, that vowed before the international community to protect the rights of Kashmiris in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, was exposed on Saturday when the country’s police and Army arrested as many as 22 members of a faction of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) at a pro-independence protest in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, reported. Some of the protesters were taken into custody after clashes broke out between them and the security forces near Tatrinote village which is situated about 80km south of Muzaffarabad. The police and the local administration are maintaining a stoic silence on it.

The local police fired tear gas shells at protesters when they tried to get closer to the Line of Control and suspended mobile phone services in the area. A police officer and several others were also critically injured in the clashes. Speaking on the incident, senior JKLF leader Toqeer Gilani said the international community must come forward and take steps to resolve the Kashmir issue by asking both Pakistan and India to withdraw their troops from Kashmir. Gilani also said the security forces arrested more than 40 JKLF members for staging the protest.

The protest began on Friday demanding the lifting of curfew and immediate release of political prisoners. Though Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan preaches the gospel to the international community regarding the right to self-determination for Kashmiris, the country’s police and Army are hell-bent upon restricting the activities of pro-independence groups.

Earlier, 19 JKLF activists were charged with sedition for shouting pro-Azadi slogans. The JKLF is a prominent Kashmiri political party that advocates for independence from both Pakistan and India for a free Kashmir.

Pakistan, that uses the JKLF as a cover to attack India on Kashmir, found itself in the awkward position when the protesters demanded that Pakistani security forces should be withdrawn from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Tensions between India and Pakistan are all-time high since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.

During Operation Zarb-e-Azb by Pakistani armed forces killed hundreds of Baloch people in cold blood while hundreds of others went missing. Innocent civilians had to bear the brunt, though Operation Zarb-e-Azb was a joint military offensive conducted by the Pakistan Armed Forces against terrorist groups like including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, al-Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Jundallah and the Haqqani network. Reports said as many as 500 Pakistani soldiers and 3,500 terrorists were killed during the two-year-long military operation.

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