On the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the nation is observing Kashmir Hour from 12pm to 12:30pm to express solidarity with Kashmiris facing brutal repression by Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
Sirens blared across the country as the clock struck noon and traffic signals turned red on all thoroughfares of the federal capital, Islamabad. The National Anthem was played along with the anthem of Kashmir.
The main event of Kashmir Hour has been organised on Islamabad’s Constitution Avenue where the prime minister has arrived accompanied by several members of parliament. The premier will also shortly address students at the lawn of Parliament House.
Federal ministers and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders have also gathered at D-Chowk, while government employees also came out of their offices to participate in Kashmir Hour on the streets.
Numerous demonstrations have been organised in all districts of the country. On the directives of PM Imran, elected representatives are leading the demonstrations in their respective constituencies and members of the civil society and students are participating in large numbers.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, PM Imran called on all Pakistanis to participate in ‘Kashmir Hour’ to express solidarity with Kashmiris and condemn India’s “fascist oppression” in the disputed territory.
“I want all Pakistanis to come out tomorrow (Friday) 12 noon-12.30 pm to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people,” the premier wrote on Twitter, adding: “We must send a strong message to Kashmiris that our nation stands resolutely behind them.”
PM Imran further said New Delhi’s attempt to change the demography of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) was a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
He added that the nearly month-long curfew in the occupied valley and the use of force against Kashmiri civilians were “all part of the ethnic cleansing agenda of the Modi government and its illegal annexation of IOK”.
In his address to the nation this week, PM Imran Khan announced the government’s plan to observe Kashmir Hour every Friday from 12pm to 12:30pm to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Wednesday said Pakistan would give a “strong message to the world by expressing solidarity with the oppressed people of occupied Kashmir on Friday.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Major General Asif Ghafoor said in line with the government’s announcement, the National Anthem and the anthem of Kashmir will be sung, while sirens will blare on Friday noon to mark the Kashmir Hour.
Maj Gen Ghafoor appealed to the country’s youth to participate in the government’s initiative to observe ‘Kashmir Hour’ every week.
Tensions have soared since August 5 when the Indian government stripped the occupied Kashmir of its special status, which prevented outsiders from buying property and settling in the disputed territory — a move aimed at changing the demography of the Muslim-dominated valley.
A day before the move, India imposed a curfew and communication blockade in the occupied valley. The heavy restrictions on movement and communication blackout continued for the 25th straight day on Thursday.