Imran Khan addresses the legislative assembly in Muzaffarabad to mark the country's Independence Day. Aamir Qureshi/AFP
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan used an address celebrating Independence Day on Wednesday to accuse India of planning military action in the disputed Kashmir region that has long been a flashpoint between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
India revoked the special status of its portion of Himalayan Kashmir, known as Jammu and Kashmir, on Aug. 5 and moved to quell widespread unrest by shutting down communications and clamping down on freedom of movement.
Islamabad retaliated by suspending bilateral trade and all public transport links with India, as well as expelling New Delhi's ambassador to Islamabad.
On Wednesday, Khan travelled to Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, making his first visit to the region since becoming Pakistan's leader in 2018.
"The Pakistani army is fully aware that they (India) have made a plan of taking action in Azad Kashmir.
In a speech he told the region's parliament that India planned more extensive action than that of February, when its fighter jets struck inside Pakistan, following a dramatic escalation in tension between the rivals.
"They have made a more horrendous plan to divert world attention from their move in Kashmir, they plan action in Azad Kashmir," Khan said, referring to the portion held by Pakistan.
"The Pakistani army is fully aware that they (India) have made a plan of taking action in Azad Kashmir."
Khan also repeated comments comparing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, to the German Nazi Party.
Representatives of India's armed forces and its foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Khan's remarks.
India rules the populous Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu city, while Pakistan controls Azad Kashmir, a wedge of territory in the west. China holds a thinly populated high-altitude area in the north.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power Great Britain in 1947, They came close to a third in February after a deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in air strikes by both countries.
India's revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir blocks the state's right to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has said old laws prohibiting people from outside Kashmir from buying property, settling there and taking up government jobs had hindered its development.
Restrictions were lifted in five districts of Jammu and nine districts of Kashmir on Monday, India's home ministry said, adding that security would be heightened for both countries' Independence Day celebrations and Muslim Friday prayers.
In Islamabad, posters urged residents to express solidarity with Kashmiris and roadside vendors sold Azad Kashmir flags as well as the Pakistan flag commonly displayed on Aug. 14.
"Independence Day is an opportunity for great happiness, but today we are saddened by the plight of our Kashmiri brothers in occupied Jammu and Kashmir who are victims of Indian oppression," Khan said in an earlier statement.
"I assure my Kashmiri brothers that we stand with them."
Pakistan has also said it will observe India's Independence Day on Aug. 15 as a "Black Day" this year, with flags flown half-mast on government buildings in protest at India's decision.
The decision comes at a time of high tension between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
India's decision to strip Kashmir of the special autonomy it has enjoyed for seven decades has also prompted condemnation on Pakistani Twitter, where at one point the top six trending hashtags all related to the move.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday the country was considering an approach to the United Nations Security Council after India stripped its portion of contested Kashmir of special status.
Slamming the move by the microblogging site, Pakistan Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said: "Twitter has really gone too far in becoming mouthpiece of the rogue Modi govt! They sent a notice to our President! In bad taste and simply ridiculous."
"We had a very difficult two years. We didn't have foreign exchange and couldn't pay our debts. We have avoided a huge crisis because we didn't default (payments). But I know it hasn't been easy for the people, I understand the difficulties they faced and still are facing,” he said in a televised address to the nation.
The flag hoisting ceremony was also held at the Pakistan Consulate General Dubai on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day. The ceremony was held in a manner keeping in view the local laws on social gatherings due to COVID-19.
Dewa has successfully installed 240 electric vehicle charging stations in different areas of Dubai such as government offices, airports, petrol stations, shopping malls, commercial offices, clinics and hospitals, residential complexes and establishments.
Consequently, Vijayan will not unfurl the tricolour at the main Independence Day function on Saturday, with Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran stepping in for him, in the ceremony, which will last only 10 minutes.