It was no small number. Tens of thousands of Pakistanis yesterday poured onto the streets in almost all big and small cities and towns of the country in a government-led demonstration of solidarity with the Kashmiris who have refused to accept New Delhi’s illegal annexation of their abode on August 5, and continue to fight a nine million-strong occupation force despite heavy restrictions that have rendered them without supplies and medicines for 26 days now and cut them off from the entire world due to communications curbs. The half-hour-long demonstrations, called Kashmir Hour, were meant to pressure the world into siding with the Pakistani position on the troubled disputed region. Sirens blared across the country when the clock struck noon and traffic signals all flipped to red on roads in Islamabad and elsewhere while the Pakistani national anthem and an anthem for Kashmir played across television and radio.
The main Kashmir Hour event in Islamabad was held on Constitution Avenue, where Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the country alongside several ministers and members of parliament. Leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also gathered at D-Chowk while government employees from nearby offices came out to participate in Kashmir Hour on the streets. Numerous demonstrations were also organised in other parts of the country as well as Azad Jammu and Kashmir with elected representatives leading the demonstrations in their respective constituencies, and members of civil society, students and celebrities participating in large numbers. The demonstration was the first in what will be weekly rallies held nationwide until Prime Minister Imran leaves for New York by the end of next month to attend the United Nations General Assembly, and raise the Kashmir issue before the international community.
"We are with them in their testing times. The message that goes out of here today is that as long as Kashmiris don't get freedom, we will stand with them," the PM told thousands of demonstrators in the capital as he expressed his sheer commitment towards the cause of Kashmir. The PM also reiterated his annoyance over the slumbering world conscience, stressing that if Kashmiris were not Muslims, the world would have acted much more strongly to stop India’s brutalities. It, however, needs to be mentioned here – with all the disappointment and disgust – that the countries that have shown the greatest disregard for the plight of Kashmiris are all Muslim states, and it goes without saying that the prime minister and his men need to focus more on these ‘friendly’ countries as part of their diplomatic offensive to highlight the Kashmir issue the world over. The PM also needs to realise – and prepare a counter plan too – that as he lambasts Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party as the second coming of Hitler and the Nazis, our beloved 'allies' continue to act as Judenrat – the Jews who supported the Nazis in keeping the ghettos and concentration camps in order.
While the government has been doing all what it can to get the world to focus on the plight of the Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian occupation forces, common Pakistanis also have their task cut out: they are required to keep the Kashmir issue burning bright by whatever way possible. The Kashmir Hour the next Friday must witness a bigger, louder and more enthusiastic participation from the people. The roar must draw bigger coverage and more prominent display in the international media. The first target is to get the lockdown in the occupied state lifted – something that New Delhi is scared of doing, realising the fury and the determination with which the never-say-die Kashmiris shall react.
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