Indian High Commission in Pakistan celebrates Independence Day, organises 73-km cycling ride

The Indian High Commission in Pakistan on Thursday organised a cycling ride for 73 kilometers to celebrate India's 73rd Independence Day.

Islamabad: The Indian High Commission in Pakistan on Thursday organised a cycling ride for 73 kilometres to celebrate India's 73rd Independence Day. The cycling ride was organised by the Indian High Commission officials with traditional fervour and enthusiasm.

Charge d`Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia unfurled the national flag of India and read out the speech made by President Ram Nath Kovind on the eve of Independence Day on Wednesday.

Guests at the event also paid tribute to the Indian bravehearts who made supreme sacrifices for their motherland in the line of duty.

The event was commemorated without the presence of Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ajay Bisaria, who returned to his country earlier this week, days after Islamabad asked New Delhi to call him back following the scrapping of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

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In wake of the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan has downgraded its diplomatic ties with India and suspended the operations of Samjhuta and Thar Express.

New Delhi was also informed earlier that Pakistan would not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India Moin-ul-Haq. He was expected to officially take charge on August 16. 

Back home, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that with the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the spirit of "One Nation, One Constitution" has become a reality. The PM also slammed Congress and other opposition parties for making a hue and cry over the issue.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on 73rd Independence Day, Prime Minister Modi asked them if the issue was so "life-changing", then why the previous governments did not make the special status to the troubled state a "permanent" arrangement.

"If this was so important or life-changing, why was this Article not made permanent? Why did you let it remain temporary? After all, those people had huge mandates and could have easily removed its temporary status of Article 370," he said.

The Prime Minister said that within 10 weeks of returning to power, his government took key decisions including passing bills on the abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, ban on the practice of Triple Talaq and anti-terror laws to fulfil the aspirations of the people.

"During the difficult times of independence, people like Sardar Vallabhai Patel took very tough and valiant decisions. But because of Article 370, there emerged problems. Repealing of Article 370 and Article 35A was a step towards fulfilling Sardar Patel`s dream of a strong and united India. The spirit of `One Nation, One Constitution` has become a reality and India is proud of that," he said.

While affirming that his government believed in solving problems and not prolonging them and removal of Article 370 was its example, the Prime Minister said, "Article 370 has become history after both the Houses of Parliament supported it with two-thirds of the members supported this step."

Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status and was bifurcated into two Union Territories -- Ladakh without legislature and Jammu and Kashmir with the legislature. 

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill 2019 and the resolution revoking Article 370 in the state was passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The opposition parties have been accusing the government of repealing Article 370 "unilaterally" and without taking into confidence the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The government has imposed several restrictions in the state in view of precautionary measures.

''If there was so much conviction, you (opposition parties) should have come forward and made it permanent. It means you also know that what happened was not correct, but you just did not have the courage or resolve to bring reforms. It would have jeopardised your political future, but for me, the country`s future is important than the political future," he said.

Justifying the government`s move, PM Modi said that "the old arrangement" in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh encouraged corruption, nepotism, separatism, discrimination and there was injustice when it came to rights of women, children, Dalits, tribal communities.

"My Dalit and tribal brothers should get their rights. In all parts of India, they do get the necessary benefits. Sanitation workers in Jammu and Kashmir never got their rights. Now they will be able to avail all the facilities," he said.

Asserting that the move will enable the people of the region to hold the government at the Centre directly accountable, PM Modi said, "After the partition, when people came to India they faced no problems but those who settled in Jammu and Kashmir could never live in peace."

"The new system in place is for the direct benefit of the people on the ground. Now anyone living in Jammu and Kashmir can directly question the Centre. He now does not need to go to media," he asked.

The Prime Minister also attacked Pakistan for "supporting and exporting" terrorism while outlining the need for all global powers to come together to fight against the menace. 

He stated that his government`s policy for eradicating terrorism was firm and clear.

Emphasising that peace and security were two important aspects of development, the Prime Minister said: "Different parts of the world are struggling with conflicts and security crisis. For world peace, India has to play its role. India cannot stay as a mute spectator. We all must come together to identify those who support or breed terrorism. We are committed to fighting against terrorism."

He said India was strongly fighting against those who were spreading terrorism."Terrorism in any part of the world is a war against humanity and hence all humanitarian forces should come together to expose the real face of those who harbour, promote or export terrorism. Those who give protection and support terrorism must be completely exposed," he said.

(With ANI Inputs)