Tens of thousands mark ‘Kashmir Hour’ in Pakistan - GulfToday

Tens of thousands mark ‘Kashmir Hour’ in Pakistan


Pakistani students join rallies in support of Kashmiris in Islamabad on Friday. Reuters

Cities around Pakistan came to a standstill on Friday as tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets in a government-led demonstration of solidarity with the disputed region of Kashmir, after India revoked its autonomy this month.

The Pakistani national anthem and an anthem for Kashmir played across television and radio, while traffic came to a standstill, and trains stopped, as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s campaign to draw global attention to the plight of the divided Himalayan region.

The prominent personalities, including cricketers, politicians and showbiz stars on Friday have participated in “Kashmir Hour” rallies and protested from 12:00pm to 12:30pm in their respective areas to express solidarity with the people of occupied valley who are continuously facing Indian atrocities.

The prime minister came out of his office at the Prime Minister Secretariat to address thousands of demonstrators who had gathered there. “Pakistan nation stands by Kashmiris and we will stand by Kashmir till our last breath,” he said, stressing the need to understand the RSS’ extremist ideology, which foments hatred against Muslims.

Imran said he has warned the international community that India could launch an attack on Pakistani-held Kashmir in an effort to divert attention from human rights abuses in the portion of the disputed Himalayan region that it controls.

Imran said his country will give a “befitting response” to the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi if it attacked. “Every brick will be countered with a stone,” he said. “Our armed forces are ready” to respond to any such attack, he said.

Imran said any conflict between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India will not be confined to the South Asian region. “The whole world will be affected,” he said, adding that he will raise the issue when he addresses the UN General Assembly next month.

Imran said people in Indian-administered Kashmir have been living under a curfew for almost four weeks since New Delhi downgraded Muslim-majority Kashmir’s autonomy on Aug.5 and imposed a security clampdown to prevent any violent response.

Imran drew parallels between Hitler’s Nazi Party and RSS, of which Narendra Modi is a lifelong member. “They think Muslims should be taught a lesson. That they are not equal citizens of India. The entire world is seeing what is happening in Kashmir.”

He said the entire world would have supported Kashmiris if they were non-Muslims. “When I said I will become ambassador of Kashmir, I meant that I will fight Kashmir’s case at every forum.”

To express his solidarity with Kashmiri people, former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi came dressed in military uniform to the government organised event “Kashmir Hour” in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 by India.

Education institutions, government and private offices, banks, traders, lawyers and military authorities took part in the events.

The premier said that an event will be held every week to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people, starting from Aug.30.

The prime minister said in his opinion peace for the New York Times he has exposed the RSS which he said is not only dangerous for the Muslims but also a threat to other communities including  Christians.

Meanwhile, restrictions were tightened in Srinagar, Kashmir, ahead of Friday prayers. In parts of the city where deployment was thin most of this week, armed paramilitary patrols returned to the streets in large numbers, manning checkpoints made with concertina wire and metal barricades.

The day of action in Pakistan is Imran Khan’s latest attempt to draw global attention to Kashmir and highlight what Islamabad says is India’s heavy-handed occupation of the region.

Pakistan has sought the support of the United States, former colonial power Britain and others to press India over Kashmir.

“As we take up the issue at diplomatic levels, we also want to show the world and the Kashmiri people that they’re not alone in their struggle,”a former foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, told a television channel. But despite the effort to put Kashmir on the global agenda, Pakistan is increasingly running out of options, foreign affairs analysts say.

Tariq Butt / Agencies

Related articles