ISLAMABAD - Lok Virsa, Ministry of National Heritage and Integration, in collaboration with Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan organised a daylong cultural festival here at Shakarparian to mark the Kashmir solidarity Day.Kashmir Solidarity Day, observed on 5 February annually, has now become a day of great national significance. The day is revered with great fervour and enthusiasm to show solidarity with Kashmiri people.Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid said, “Lok Virsa has been observing Kashmir Solidarity Day for the last several years. The purpose of holding this event is to highlight the sacrifices of Kashmiri people struggling for their right to self-determination through a cultural perspective”.This year too, a daylong mini festival was organised on Tuesday, at Islamabad. Samina Khalid Ghurki, federal minister for national heritage and integration visited the festival and met Kashmiri families, Kashmiri artists & musicians and expressed solidarity with them on behalf of the government and her ministry. Speaking on the occasion, the minister said, “Pakistan will continue to support the cause of Kashmir. We have been celebrating Kashmir Day at national level since 1990 and are continuously trying to highlight the Kashmir issue to the international community.Kashmiris are undoubtedly brave people. They are struggling to keep their identity despite atrocities by the Indian forces. Culture is an important tool, which can effectively focus contribution of Kashmiris. The today’s festival will certainly go a long way in projecting the cause of Kashmir”.The festival brought Kashmiri artisans, artists, NGOs & government organisations working for the cause of Kashmir under one umbrella to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people. The event was arranged with purely a cultural and social perspective highlighting the contribution of Kashmiri immigrants, who are trying to keep their identity and cultural traditions alive.Lok Virsa became the focal point of cultural activities relating to the day. All social sector and community organisations, artists, musicians, diplomatic community was invited to participate in the festival.A wide of range of programmes were chalked out which continued throughout the day from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. The main features included Kashmiri Artisans-at-work with more than 20 Kashmiri craftsmen/women who displayed their artisanship in creatively designed cultural pavilions and attracted attention of the crowd. The master artisans who participated in the exhibition included Zulfiqar Ali Ghazi (papier mache), Mukhtar Dar (Gabba), Qazi Ali Muhammad (Namda), Irfan Sheikh (woodwork), Amjad Butt (Kashmiri shawl), Rubina Zulfiqar, Yasmin Bano, Ghulam Mustafa, Khalil-ur-Rehman, Shamim Habib, Nisar Ali, Muhammad Javed (Embroidery), Sajjad (wood work), Nadia Habib (carpet), and others.Famous Kashmiri artists/vocalists including Subhan Rather, Rukhsana Murtaza, Haleema Bi, Gulzar Shereen and Bano Rehmat presented colors of Kashmir in their song renditions.Kashmiri musicians & instrumentalists who also performed were santoor player Ghulam Muhammad Dar, sarangi player Ghulam Rasul Butt, Ghara player Muhammad Akram Butt, Dholak player Jeevay Lal, keyboard player Anees Ahmed and others.A large number of NGOs and government organisations like Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness (PFFB), Gandhara Community Uplift Programme, Virsa Academy, Paksitan Handicrafts, Pakistan Taraqia Tanzeem, Thal Development Society, Hunderkada, Kashmir Institute of International Relations, Pakistan Red Crecent Society, Anjuman Behbood Khawateen, Anjamun Falaho Behbud Khawateen, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), Threadlines Gallery Pakistan, Aurat Association, Behbood Association of Pakistan, Al-Nisa Women Rights Association, Women Welfare and Development Centre, Edhi Welfare Centre, Society for Human Rghts & Prisoners Aid, ROZAN, Adult Basic Education Society, SOLIDAR, Tanzeem-e-Nojawanan-e-Amal, AJK Human Right Movement, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), All Parties Hurriet Conference, Sungi Development Foundation, Business & Professional Women Organization, Technical Education and Vocational Training, Society for the Advancement of Community Health, Education & Training, Women Development Literacy & Education Institute, Directorate of Film & Publications, etc. set up their stalls and expressed solidarity with Kashmiri people by way of displaying their products and banners bearing slogans in relevance with the event.Kashmiri cuisine rista, roghan josh, tabaq mas, Aab gosht, and goshtaba, hot and mouth watering all washed down with Kashmiri green tea was served during the festival.Arts & Crafts Bazaar offered a variety of knick-knacks, gemstones, folk arts, crafts; trinkets, etc. were available on very affordable prices.The event witnessed a great hustle and bustle. Even rain could not diminish the enthusiasm of visitors and people from all walks of life thronged with their families and friends to see the one-day mini festival.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 06-Feb-2013 here.