Pakistanis have come out in droves on streets and avenues across the country to participate in rallies and make human chains on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day observed on Wednesday.
Members of the federal and provincial governments joined citizens at the various rallies, public meetings and seminars being held to express support for the people of occupied Kashmir and their right to self-determination under the United Nations resolutions.
Every year, February 5 is observed as a day of solidarity with Kashmiris. This year, however, it comes after India stripped the region of its special status and imposed a lockdown.
The Indian government had on August 5, 2019, repealed Article 370 of its constitution, stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status. It also divided up occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories; one Jammu and Kashmir, and the other the Buddhist-dominated high altitude region of Ladakh. The bifurcation of the territory came into effect on October 31 last year.
A strict lockdown and communications blackout has been in place in occupied Kashmir since August 5. Forc-ing people offline has crippled the economy and made it impossible to pay utility bills, make applications or just send a message to family outside the stricken zone.
Last month, limited mobile data services and internet were temporarily restored in the region.
In Islamabad, a rally was held to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people. It was attended by female mem-bers of the parliament and women belonging to different walks of life.
In Karachi, a rally was taken out from Kashmir Road to Mazar-i-Quaid to express solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir.
Organised by the Sindh government, the rally was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Gover-nor Imran Ismail, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, provincial ministers, advisers, special assistants, provincial secre-taries and senior police officers.
Addressing the rally, Shah said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unleashed a wave of terror against the Muslims of India and has launched a genocide in occupied Kashmir. “Your hands are stained with the blood of innocent Kashmiris and one day you will have to face cases of war crimes in the International Court of Justice,” he said, referring to Modi. During the rally, songs of solidarity with the people of Kashmir were played and a special band performed until the event’s conclusion.
Mall Road was decorated with the flags of Pakistan and AJK while camps were set up across the city to show support for the people of occupied Kashmir.
Addressing a rally at Charing Cross, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said there was a strong connection between the residents of Lahore and occupied Kashmir.
Meanwhile, a large number of people living in Sialkot’s border villages formed a chain of human hands in Sucheetgarh Sector along the Working Boundary.
They carried pro-Kashmir banners and waved the national flags of both Pakistan and AJK.
While expressing solidarity with the Kashmiri people, the protesters condemned the “Indian state terrorism” in the occupied valley.
They said that freedom was the basic right of the oppressed Kashmiri people and that “the sacrifices of thou-sands of Kashmiri people will soon bear fruit. As in other parts of the country, scores of people marched through the streets in Balochistan to express solidar-ity with Kashmiris today.
Rallies were taken out in Quetta by political parties, civil society and people belonging to various walks of life.
Balochistan Governor retired Justice Amanullah Khan Yasinzai and Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan partici-pated in one such event where they vowed to raise their voice for the Kashmiri people at all forums.
Chief Minister Khan expressed concern over the atrocities being perpetrated by India against the Kashmiri people. “Indian barbarism has now been exposed and we, the people of Balochistan, stand with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters,” he said. Rallies were also taken out in Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Musakhel, Gwadar and other parts of Balochistan by various political parties to express solidarity with Kashmiris. Strict security measures were adopted by the administration to prevent any untoward incident.
Rallies were held in various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Shangla, Kohistan, Battagram, Torghar, Mansehra and Swat in solidarity with the Kashmiri people.
In Shangla district, a large number of students, civil society members, teachers and traders participated in the rally, while markets remained closed in protest against India and in support of Kashmir’s residents.
In Bisham, a rally was taken out on the Karakoram Highway in which participants shouted slogans against the Indian prime minister and in support of Kashmiris.
Addressing the event, speakers condemned the Indian army’s aggression in occupied Kashmir as well as the revocation of the occupied region’s special status.
They demanded of the UN and human rights organisations to take note of the Indian aggression and push for the holding of a referendum in occupied Kashmir.
.”International community should do more
In his message, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the international community to do more for the people of occupied Kashmir “in this time of trial and tribulation”, Radio Pakistan reported.