–Thousands of Pakistanis come out in droves to observe ‘Kashmir Hour’ across the country
–PM Imran says ‘if international community does not stand up to Modi’s ‘fascist govt’, the effect would be felt in the whole world’
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: People across Pakistan, on the appeal of Prime Minister Imran Khan, came out in droves on Friday to observe ‘Kashmir Hour’ from 12pm to 12:30pm to express solidarity with Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Education institutions, government and private offices, banks, traders, lawyers and military authorities took part in the events. All traffic signals turned red at noon.
Small and large rallies were also held across the country by citizens, lawyers, and people from other walks of life. Various leaders took part in Kashmir Hour events including Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
In the federal capital, the main event was held outside the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) where a large gathering was addressed by the prime minister.
The national anthems of Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir were played at the start of the event.
“Today, all of Pakistan, wherever there are Pakistanis, whether they are our students, or shopkeepers or labourers — today all of us are standing with our Kashmiris,” the premier said.
“Our Kashmiris are going through a very tough time.”
The premier said that the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had taken over India, “the way the Nazi party had taken over Germany”.
“They think that Muslims should be taught a lesson, that they are not equal citizens. Today, the whole world is seeing what is happening in Kashmir.”
Prime Minister Imran said he has conveyed to all foreign leaders that if the international community does not stand up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “fascist government”, the effect would be felt in the whole world.
The premier reiterated that if India planned to take any action in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, “every brick will be countered with a stone.”
“Forget the media; they did not let even [Indian] opposition leaders go to Srinagar.”
He called attention to the fact that Kashmirs in IoK were under curfew for nearly four weeks. “The message from Pakistan that will be sent today is that till our Kashmiris don’t get independence, the people of Pakistan will stand with them.”
Another event was held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr where President Arif Alvi addressed the crowd.
“I pray to God that in your and my lifetime, we see an independent Kashmir in which their rights are not repressed, their women are not raped and their people are not martyred.”
In Lahore, a major rally was carried out in front of Punjab Assembly which had Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht, among others, in attendance.
The call for the observance of this hour came as Pakistan ramps up the pressure at the diplomatic front over the Kashmir issue, conveying its reservations to the global community about human rights violations being committed by India in the occupied Kashmir.
It will be a “strong message” of solidarity to Kashmiris, reiterated Prime Minister Imran days after the idea was approved by the National Security Committee in a meeting and was shared by the premier in his address to the nation.
“I want all Pakistanis to come out tomorrow 12-12:30pm to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people and send the Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir a clear message that the entire Pakistani nation stands in solidarity with them and against Indian fascist oppression, the inhumane 24-day curfew, the daily injuring and killing of Kashmiri civilians, including women & children — all part of the ethnic cleansing agenda of the Modi government and its illegal annexation of IoK,” said the premier in a tweet posted ahead of the special day.
“The plan to change the demography of Kashmir is a war crime under 4th Geneva Convention,” he said, highlighting an oft-repeated concern that the move was aimed at changing the demography of Kashmir by the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The call has also been endorsed by the Pakistan Army.
In a press conference on Wednesday, chief military spokesperson urged the nation, especially youth, to participate in the rallies.
At least 500 incidents of protest have broken out in Indian-administered Kashmir since New Delhi stripped the region of its autonomy and imposed a military clampdown more than three weeks ago, a senior government official has told the AFP news agency.
Movements are restricted in the region and phone and internet services have been cut. Police have been using pellet guns and tear gas to disperse crowds of protesters in the main city of Srinagar.