Pakistan on Friday observed, "Kashmir Hour" to express "solidarity" with the Kashmiri people after India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Sirens blared across the country as the clock struck noon and traffic signals turned red on all roads of the federal capital Islamabad.
The main event was held at Islamabad's Constitution Avenue where Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered an address to a flag-waving and slogan-shouting crowd. "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," Khan said.
"Our Kashmiris are going through a difficult phase. Approximately 8 million Kashmiris for the last four weeks have been locked under curfew," he said. The prime minister said the purpose of observing "Kashmir Hour" was to send a message from Pakistan that the country will continue to stand with the Kashmiris.
"We will stand with them till the last breath," he said. Another event is being held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr where President Arif Alvi addressed the crowd. Education institutions, government and private offices, banks, traders, lawyers and military authorities are taking part in the events.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated after New Delhi on August 5 revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two union territories. Reacting to India's move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality. Prime Minister Khan earlier this week gave a call for weekly protests by the nation and designated August 30 as the day for the first such demonstration to show "solidarity" with the Kashmiris.
According to the railway's ministry, all trains were to stop for one minute and all railway workers to take part in the events. The weekly protest will continue till September 27 when prime minister Khan is expected to address the UN Security Council.
The events will be attended by the civil and military officials across the country, said Pakistan military's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor urged the youth, particularly students, to attend the events. Celebrities and cricketers have also appealed to the public to come out for "Kashmir Hour".