There is considerable controversy over the peace & freedom march planned today by activists in Azad Kashmir at the militarized Line of Control (LoC). What concerns people is that India will take it as a provocation & shoot down or injure many of the unarmed participants. During the last such march a few weeks ago, Pakistan arrested many of the participants, possibly to prevent such a provocation with India. India is shooting pellet guns & live ammo at unarmed protesters in Kashmir & has been for years. That hasn’t stopped Kashmiris from protesting. What is of concern at the LoC protests is that India will use them to incite military action with Pakistan & that’s a genuine concern.

It’s wisest not to second-guess the organizers who know what they’re doing in their own countries & don’t need outside counsel. But there are proposals worth considering, which those organizing the protests may have already put into action, that can make those protests, which are a powerful act of solidarity, safer for participants & harder for India to exploit. Representatives from human rights organizations, journalists from major international media, UN representatives, well-known figures who support Kashmir can all be invited as observers. Hopefully most aren’t too chicken-hearted to do so. This would make it harder for India to exploit & unnecessary for Pakistan to arrest participants. First & foremost, those in Azad Kashmir who stand with Kashmiris have a right to protest in solidarity & it’s a right that should not be truncated or demonized in any way.