While India continues to make giant strides in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, Pakistan has still not got over India’s move to abrogate Article 370 and continues to stoop to desperate attempts to internationalise the issue of Kashmir. Pakistan had earlier observed ‘Black Day’ on the occasion of the Indian Independence Day and is set to observe another ‘Black Day’ on the occasion of Diwali. While Pakistan’s economy continues to lie in the doldrums, its government has decided to prioritize ‘Black Day’. Pakistan-backed organisations were recently in the news as on 15th August and 3rd September, the groups protested at the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom to ‘Free Kashmir’ which turned violent as the protestors threw stones at the High Commission building and the damages totalled Rs 1.3 crores. Another violent protest was planned by Pakistan on 27th October before Diwali but India has flexed its diplomatic clout to crush the Pakistan-backed protest.
The United Kingdom has witnessed two anti-India protests thanks to the tacit support it received from London Mayor Sadiq Khan for whom the British Pakistanis continue to be the biggest constituency. As the protests in the United Kingdom turned violent, there were genuine concerns for the safety of the Indian High Commission and the matter was taken up at the highest level with Prime Minister Modi discussing the protests with his counterpart Boris Johnson over a phone call. It is said that Johnson had expressed regret over the incident and assured that all necessary steps would be taken to ensure the safety and security of the High Commission and its personnel and visitors. The protest on 15th August was to disturb India’s Independence Day celebrations and taking cognizance of the twin anti-India protests, the Indian High Commission sent a diplomatic letter to the UK. The protests saw Pakistanis throwing tomatoes and eggs which resulted in a broken a windowpane.
As another anti-India protest was on the horizon, Conservative MP Bob Blackman decided to ramp up the pressure on Boris Johnson’s government to ban the protest as he addressed the Parliament by saying: “In this House, we defend forever the right of peaceful protest. Yet on 15 August, pro-Pakistani organisations held violent protests outside the Indian High Commission. This Sunday, there is the threat of 10,000 people being brought to demonstrate outside the Indian High Commission on Diwali, the holiest day for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. What action is the government going to take to prevent violent protests this Sunday?” Blackman has also written to Mayor Khan urging him to take steps to ensure the so-called “Free Kashmir” march on Sunday does not proceed.”
“I am receiving vast amounts of correspondence from multiple diasporas highlighting concerns which stem from community safety perspectives plus the obviously confrontational date selected: the holy festival of Diwali,” Blackman said in his letter.
Boris Johnson has condemned the planned anti-India protest and has termed it “wholly unacceptable” and the Johnson responded to Blackman’s concerns by replying: “I join my honourable friend, who speaks strongly and well for his constituency, in deploring demonstrations that end up being intimidating in any way.” He also said that he had spoken to Home Secretary Priti Patel, who will raise the matter with the police. “We must all be clear in this House that violence and intimidation anywhere in this country are wholly unacceptable,” Johnson added.
It seems that the Indian pressure has finally prevailed as the planned protest has been cancelled. Sadiq Khan had on Friday called for those organising the protest and those taking part to cancel their plans to “prevent a repeat of the unacceptable violence, aggression and hostility from some protestors” at the previous protests on 15 August and 3 September.
India yet again has played spoilsport over Pakistan’s desperate attempts to paint India in a poor light as India used its diplomatic machinery to quickly quell Pakistan-backed protests.