In solidarity with the people of the occupied valley, Pakistan is observing Kashmir Day on February 5 (today), calling for the Kashmiris right to self-determination.
This year, the day is being observed after India revoked the special status of occupied Kashmir in August 2019. Since then, the entire population of the occupied territory has been under a lockdown.
In their messages on Kashmir Day, leaders on both sides of the aisle — government and opposition — were unanimous in sharing their support for Kashmiris.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif, via a tweet, said: "No amount of brute Indian power has succeeded in silencing brave Kashmiris."
"The chapters of exemplary courage they are writing to annals of human history will continue to inspire oppressed people [...] Pakistan will always stand by its Kashmiri brothers and sisters."
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan stated that today serves as a reminder of the "ultimate oppression of Indian security forces on the people of occupied Kashmir", reported Radio Pakistan.
"Kashmir Day is observed every year with the objective of expressing solidarity with the people [of the valley] and to sensitise the world about their obligations to the people of Kashmir.
"Pakistan desires a peaceful solution of the issue in consonance with UN resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The UN and the international community must take notice of Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir," she stressed.
Speaking at a rally in Islamabad, she added: "Pakistan will defend its land till the last soldier, the last bullet and the last drop of blood. The country will continue to raise the Kashmir issue at all international forums."
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved in accordance with UN resolutions.
“Every city, street and village stands with the people of Kashmir where the lockdown has entered its 185th day. India has always been unable to suppress the Kashmiris' seven decade-long struggle."
He added that the idea of marking Kashmir Solidarity Day was first envisioned by Benazir Bhutto, his late mother and former prime minister.
Addressing a rally at Charing Cross, Lahore, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar stated that Pakistan stood with Kashmir in the past, is currently standing with them and will continue to do so in the future.
He added that what Prime Minister Imran Khan has done, in terms of raising the Kashmir issue at international forums, has not been done before by any leader.
“Our hearts beat in tandem with the people of the occupied valley,” he said.
Addressing a rally in Karachi alongside Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unleashed a wave of terror against the Muslims of India and has launched a genocide in occupied Kashmir.
“Your hands are stained with the blood of innocent Kashmiris and one day you will have to face the International Court of Justice [for your war crimes],” he said.
Taking to Twitter, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari noted that "we have to move beyond resolution of this conflict for which [generations] of Kashmiris have paid a heavy toll in lives lost, women abused and left 'half widows', children attacked, youth incarcerated."
She added that there cannot be peace in the region without solving the Kashmir issue in accordance with UN resolutions.
"UNSC resolutions of 1951 and 1957 made clear constituent assembly and elections etc were no substitute for UN-supervised plebiscite," she added.
In a message, Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala said that the entire nation stands alongside the Kashmiris in their struggle for freedom.
“The parliamentarians of democratic countries should raise their voice against Indian atrocities in the occupied valley,” he said, adding that several movements have already begun in India.
Interior Minister Ijaz Shah maintained that a solution for the Kashmir issue was necessary for regional peace, reported Radio Pakistan.
In a statement, he said: "India's justification for revoking the region's special autonomy is nullified by the cutting of communication lines and imposition of a curfew.
"On this day, we reinforce our support for our Kashmiri brethren and promise that we will stand with them on all forums. Pakistan will continue to support the Kashmir cause unless a solution is achieved," he added.
Kashmir Affairs Minister Ali Amin Gandapur said that by revoking the region's autonomy, India undertook illegal and unilateral actions in direct contravention of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir.
"Eight million people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir have been turned into prisoners in their own homes under an inhumane lockdown and communication blackout that has persisted for six months," he maintained.
"India stands exposed before the comity of nations as an aggressor and an outlier."
While addressing a Kashmir solidarity conference, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that Pakistan's political parties and people have always fought the case of occupied Kashmir.
He regretted that independence movements were associated with terrorism after 9/11. The JUI-F chief added that a sense of insecurity was rising in Muslim countries.
Rehman said the Kashmir dispute should be resolved in accordance with UN resolutions and that decisions implemented by force would be "unacceptable".
Additional reporting by Javed Hussain in Islamabad.
Header image: Students and teachers carry Azad Kashmir flags as they attend a march to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day in Karachi on Feb 5. — Reuters