Pakistanis, on the appeal of Prime Minister Imran Khan, came out in droves on Friday to observe 'Kashmir Hour' from 12pm to 12:30pm to express solidarity with Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir.
Education institutions, government and private offices, banks, traders, lawyers and military authorities took part in the events. All traffic signals turned red at noon.
Small and large rallies were also held across the country by citizens, lawyers, and people from other walks of life. Various leaders took part in Kashmir Hour events including Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
In the federal capital, the main event was held outside the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) where a large gathering was addressed by the prime minister. Along with the premier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Prime Minister's Special Assistant Naeemul Haque were also in attendance.
The national anthems of Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir were played at the start of the event.
"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," the premier said.
"Our Kashmiris are going through a very tough time."
The premier said that the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had taken over India, "the way the Nazi party had taken over Germany".
"They think that Muslims should be taught a lesson, that they are not equal citizens. Today, the whole world is seeing what is happening in Kashmir."
Prime Minister Imran said he has conveyed to all foreign leaders that if the international community does not stand up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "fascist government", the effect would be felt in the whole world.
The premier reiterated that if India planned to take any action in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, "every brick will be countered with a stone."
"Forget the media; they did not let even [Indian] opposition leaders go to Srinagar."
He called attention to the fact that Kashmirs in IoK were under curfew for nearly four weeks. "The message from Pakistan that will be sent today is that till our Kashmiris don't get independence, the people of Pakistan will stand with them."
Another event was held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr where President Arif Alvi addressed the crowd.
"I pray to God that in your and my lifetime, we see an independent Kashmir in which their rights are not repressed, their women are not raped and their people are not martyred."
Rallies and demonstrations were also staged by people across Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
In state capital Muzaffarabad, a big rally was held from the PM secretariat to a nearby memorial to Sardar Ibrahim Khan, a former AJK president.
Muhammad Shehzad Arbab, adviser to Prime Minister Khan on establishment, AJK ministers Barrister Syed Iftikhar Ali Gillani, Sardar Farooq Sikandar, Chaudhry Rukhsar Ahmed and Chaudhry Ismail were also among the participants, who included government servants and civil society activists.
The participants held AJK and Pakistani flags, as well as banners and placards inscribed with slogans, drawing attention to atrocities in occupied Kashmir and the popular demand of Kashmiris.
Prior to the rally, sirens were sounded and one-minute silence was observed to pay tributes to the valiant Kashmiris, braving Indian repression without any signs of abatement in their resolve.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Imran took to Twitter to express pride for the way the nation had stood in support of the Kashmiri people.
"I am so proud of our people in the way they came out today in solidarity with the Kashmiris — letting them know our nation stands resolutely with them as they confront the brutal, fascist Modi government's annexation and ethnic cleansing agenda in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir," he tweeted.
"The Pakistani nation has also let the world know about the Nazi-style takeover of India by the RSS-BJP's Hindu supremacist ideology and the danger it poses not only to the region but the world," he added.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also hailed the solidarity expressed by the nation with the Kashmiri people, according to a tweet by the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations.
“Solidarity displayed by the nation with Kashmiri brethren during Kashmir Hour today is a strong message to the world," he was quoted as saying. He added that the deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir is a threat to regional peace.
Appeal to express solidarity
While addressing the nation on Monday, Prime Minister Imran had announced that an event will be held every week to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people, starting from August 30.
According to the railways ministry, all trains were to stop for one minute and all railway workers were to take part in Kashmir Hour events.
The Punjab government had also issued a 'Friday Plan' as a part of Kashmir Mobilisation Campaign beginning with standing in respect of the country's national anthem. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar were scheduled join a procession at Charing Cross.
ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had urged the youth, particularly students, to attend the Kashmir Hour events to express solidarity with Kashmiris.
Celebrities and cricketers also appealed to the public to come out for Kashmir Hour.
'Strong message of solidarity'
India's government, led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, decided on August 5 to repeal of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, that granted occupied Kashmir special status. The government instituted a security lockdown and communications blackout to avoid violence. The clampdown is now on its 26th day.
Ahead of today's events, the premier on Thursday called on all Pakistanis to take part in Kashmir Hour to send a strong message of solidarity to Kashmiris.
"I want all Pakistanis to come out tomorrow 12 noon-12.30pm to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people and send the Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir a clear message that the entire Pakistani nation stands in solidarity with them and against Indian fascist oppression, the inhumane 24-day curfew, the daily injuring and killing of Kashmiri civilians, including women & children — all part of the ethnic cleansing agenda of the Modi government and its illegal annexation of IoK," the prime minister said via Twitter.
"The plan to change demography of IoK is a war crime under 4th Geneva Convention.
"We must send a strong message to Kashmiris that our nation stands resolutely behind them. So I am asking all Pakistanis for half an hour tomorrow, stop whatever you are doing and come out on the road to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people," he urged.