One minute of silence was observed across Pakistan to mark the annual remembrance of Kashmir Day yesterday in a show solidarity with people of the disputed territory.
“We urge India to stop bloodbath in occupied Jammu & Kashmir and allow the holding of free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in observance of the day.
“Pakistan calls upon the international community to raise its voice in seeking an end to the gross violations of human rights and the reign of terror unleashed by Indian occupation forces...and fulfill the promises it made with the people of Jammu & Kashmir 70 years ago,” Sharif added.
The prime minister said the people of Pakistan joined their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in observing the “Kashmir Solidarity Day” to reaffirm the country’s moral, diplomatic and political support to their legitimate struggle for their basic human rights, especially the right to self-determination, enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain has said the dream for peace in the region would remain elusive until resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris.
In a message, Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that the Kashmir Day had special significance this year because the recent uprising in India-held Kashmir, following the July 8 extra-judicial killing of popular youth leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani had shaken the conscience of the international community.
Demonstrators in all major Pakistani cities chanted anti-India slogans and formed a human chain to express solidarity with people of Kashmir.
Crowds observing Kashmir Day in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan chanted anti-India slogans and set the Indian and American flags on fire. “We won’t rest till we have freedom, we still steal freedom,” the crowds chanted.
Children participated in a number of Kashmir Day rallies. In Muzaffarabad, they joined hands to form a symbolic human chain in a message to the international community in general and India in particular that Pakistanis and Kashmiris are like ‘one soul in two hearts’.
Chairman of All Parties Hurriyet Conference Syed Ali Gilani and senior Hurriyet leader, Shabbir Ahmad Shah, expressed their gratitude towards the government, people and army of Pakistan for their support to the people of Kashmir.
According to the Kashmir Media Service, the leaders in their statements said the people of Indian-controlled Kashmir are challenging a big power and Pakistan is the only country that extends its continuous support to their cause.
“People in India-held Jammu and Kashmir are challenging a big power and Pakistan is the only country that acknowledges our right to self-determination and extends its persistent support to us,” Gilani said.
“We are highly thankful to Pakistan for its categorical support and hope the country plays a more effective role in this regard by activating all its embassies and allocating them the task of highlighting Kashmir issue and human rights violations,” he said.
In his message, incarcerated chairman of Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Ahmad Shah said that observance of Feb 5 as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ was “encouraging and praiseworthy”.
Pakistani and Kashmiri expatriates in different parts of the world, mainly the United Kingdom and United States, are also expected to hold rallies to voice their support for the people of held Kashmir.
Civil society workers in Multan take out a rally to express solidarity with people of Kashmir.
Pakistanis and Kashmiris have been observing Kashmir Day every year on Feb 5 without any discontinuity since 1990.
Both India and Pakistan administer separate portions of Kashmir but claim the region in its entirety.
The relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi fell to its lowest point in years after an attack in September 2016 by militants at an Indian army base in the disputed region of Kashmir.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they gained independence from the British in 1947. Two of them were over Kashmir.
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