Lahore/Islamabad/MUZAFFARABAD - Pakistan yesterday observed Kashmir Day to express support for the freedom struggle of their Kashmiri brethren who have been facing worst kind of operation by Indian occupation forces for decades.

Rallies were carried out on streets by different political, religious and civil society groups, and seminars were held where speakers highlighted Kashmiris sufferings and India’s high-handedness.

Educational institutions across the country also arranged different student activities to make the young generation cognizant of history of Kashmir issue and the struggle of the people of the occupied Valley.

Nationwide one minute silence was observed at 10am to honour Kashmiri martyrs.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other leaders reiterated country’s moral and political support to Kashmiris in their struggle for self determination, which has been pledged to them by the United Nations through its various resolutions.

They called upon the international community to force India to respect the Human Rights Charter and put an immediate end to gross human rights violations in the occupied Kashmir.

The main ceremony of the Kashmir Solidarity Day was held at Aiwan-e-Sadar which was addressed by several leaders including AJK President and federal ministers Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Defence Minister Khurrum Dastgir.

Addressing the ceremony, President Mamnoon Hussain said this day, people from Azad Kashmir, Occupied Kashmir and Pakistan unanimously reaffirm that Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris and its future is to be decided by the people of Kashmir.

He said “this day we reiterate that we are for Kashmiris and Kashmiris are for us”. The president said people of Indian Occupied Kashmir never have nor will accept and recognise Indian occupation.

In his keynote address on the occasion, AJK President Masood Khan said that Pakistan’s successful diplomacy has kept the issue of Kashmir alive despite India’s propaganda.

Addressing a joint session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and Kashmir Council in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the issue of Kashmir was engraved permanently in the hearts of Pakistanis.

He said all the illegitimate use of force and coercive measures by the Indian occupation forces in the Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) had miserably failed to suppress indigenous freedom struggle.

He reiterated full support of the government and 207 million people of Pakistan to the just and legitimate right of the Kashmiri people for the peaceful resolution of the issue in line with their aspirations.

The prime minister said there might be differences among the political leaders but on the Kashmir issue, all the leadership was united and there were no two opinions.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa said in a message the struggle of Kashmiris was destined to succeed.

“Repression of Indian occupying forces can never suppress valiant spirit of Kashmiris, who rightfully await awakening of international community for plebiscite under UN resolution,” ISPR Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor quoted the army chief in a tweet as saying.

“Regardless of the ordeal, their [Kashmiris’] struggle is destined to succeed IA (Inshaa Allah),” the COAS added.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said in a tweet Kashmir shall become a part of Pakistan.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of Hurriyat forum, expressed his gratitude to the people and government of Pakistan for their unflinching support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir for the right to self-determination.

In his message, he said the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Hurriyat appreciate the government of Pakistan and its leadership who has always extended all possible support to our political movement for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.

In a special message on the day, Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said: “Today is the day for solidarity with Kashmir, but for Pakistan and Pakistanis every day is the day for Kashmir solidarity.”

“Here, in UN we raise Kashmir issue again and again, and ask for implementation of UN resolutions,” she said. “We are observing this day to pay tribute to the Kashmiris who have struggled since last 70 years. Their sacrifices will never go to waste. Pakistanis are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their Kashmiris brothers,” she added.

Call for unity

Prime Minister Abbasi in his Muzaffarabad address stressed upon the unity for highlighting the Kashmir issue at all the international fora.

He said the issue would remain alive till its peaceful resolution in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and the UN resolutions.

He also underscored the need to involve the Pakistani and Kashmir diaspora to further highlight the IoK issue and the gross human atrocities committed by the Indian occupation forces.

The prime minister, referring to the AJK assembly and council, said the house had been a seat of unanimity among different Kashmiri leaders, who lent unequivocal support to the people in the Indian occupied Kashmir.

He called upon the ruling and opposition benches to set aside their political differences and work with more vigour for the Kashmir cause.

President of AJK Sardar Masood Khan and minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Muhammad Barjees Tahir were also present on the occasion.

Abbasi said the Kashmir Solidarity Day reflected a spirit of unity among all the rank and file of the nation and in the legitimate struggle, Kashmiris were not alone as the whole Pakistani nation was standing with them. “The hearts of Pakistanis and Kashmiris beat together,” he added.

The people of Pakistan, he said, felt the pains and sufferings of the Kashmir people in IoK, who had been facing the illegal subjugation of the Indian rule for the last 70 years, and extended their whole-hearted support to the Kashmiri leadership. Every child in the IoK was a freedom lover and their desires should be reciprocated with unity, he added.

He reiterated that the government of Pakistan and its people would continue their political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kahmiri people struggling for their right to self-determination.

The prime minister said the federal government would extend all possible support for the development of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The development budget for the AJK had been doubled, he added.

He said various dormant projects like Neelum-Jehlum power plant were being completed with the active support of the federal government.

He referred to the construction of Mansehra-Mirpur-Muzaffarabad road under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would enhance connectivity and spur progress and development in the AJK.

He also assured full support of his government for the families of Shuhada (martyred), who lost their lives as the result of Indian shelling.

The prime minister lauded the role of Pakistan Army in its success against the war on terror. Pakistan fought the biggest war on terror in the world with immense sacrifices and succeeded whereas the world had failed, he added.

He said there was no interference from the federal government over the formation of AJK government as it was elected by the Kashmiri people.

The prime minister also advised the AJK government to strive for providing a better governance system so that people could get their issues resolved at their doorsteps.

India condemned

President Mamnoon Hussain in his speech said attempts were being made by India to deprive Kashmiris of their motherland by changing its demography.

He also said India has been using nefarious means to malign the freedom movement of the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir.

He said that this is the era of the freedom of humanity which also ensures its protection. Established international norms and the United Nations Charter also endorse it.

The president said that Pakistan and other responsible states are drawing the attention of the international community towards this tyranny but the world has failed to end these Indian brutalities and turning a blind eye towards the atrocities on innocent Kashmiris.

He urged the entire world community to use their influence for the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris in order to ensure sustainable and lasting peace in this region as the situation in held Kashmir has already endangered peace in South-Asia.

He demanded that all political prisoners in Occupied Kashmir should be released, right to freedom of expression should be restored, used of fire-arms against innocent civilians and their persecution should be stopped.

India should withdraw its draconian laws, the leadership of held Kashmir should be permitted to travel abroad, International Human Rights observers should be allowed to work in Occupied Kashmir.

He also called upon the United Nations to fulfill its promises to the people of held Kashmir because the solution of this longstanding issue is only possible through a free and fair plebiscite in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations.