As Pakistan observes Independence Day as 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' on Wednesday to express solidarity with Kashmiris and highlight their plight, President Dr Arif Alvi said that Pakistan has always stood with Kashmiris and would continue to do so.
While addressing a flag-hoisting ceremony at the convention centre in Islamabad, President Alvi, who was the guest of honour, said that today the world was watching how the people of Pakistan were standing with their Kashmiri brothers.
"We will not leave them alone at any step," the president said adding: "Kashmiris are our [people]. We think of their pain as our pain."
"We have remained with them, we are with them today and will continue to do so."
Various political leaders including National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan were in attendance.
Mashaal Malik, wife of detained Kashmiri leader Mohammad Yasin Malik, also addressed the event during which she shared a poem she wrote about the freedom struggle of people under Indian occupation in Kashmir.
According to Radio Pakistan, flag hoisting ceremonies will also be held in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta.
The day dawned with the usual official functions and ceremonies ─ a 31-gun salute in the capital and 21-gun salutes in the provincial capitals, as well as a major event in Islamabad in which top government functionaries and armed forces' officials took part.
Meanwhile, a change of guards ceremony was held at the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi.
According to Radio Pakistan, a "smartly turned out contingent of the cadets of the Pakistan Naval Academy assumed the guards' duties," adding that Commodore Irfan Taj of the Pakistan Navy was the chief guest of the ceremony.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to visit Muzaffarabad today where he will address the Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly.
The provincial and district governments, as well as educational institutions and art councils, have planned a series of events in connection with Independence Day. Federal and provincial governments also illuminated important national buildings and monuments.
The government has unveiled a special logo "Kashmir banega Pakistan (Kashmir will become part of Pakistan)" lettered in red to go along with the theme of Kashmir Solidarity Day.
Earlier, in a message for Independence Day, President Alvi said that the Indian government’s unilateral move to end the special status of occupied Kashmir was a despicable conspiracy and blatant violation of the United Nations resolutions and the Simla Agreement.
The Indian government should realise that with the use of state aggression and absurd measures, the movement for freedom in occupied Kashmir could not be suppressed, he added.