LAHORE – Thousands of people on Tuesday took to the streets to express solidarity with Kashmiris in their fight for right to self-determination.

Various religio-political parties led demonstrations in the City to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day renewing pledge to continue support to the people of Kashmir for their just struggle. The demonstrators took a swipe at India for, what they called, using force to sustain its occupation in Kashmir and called for world help to get the 65-year-old dispute solved.

The Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), a group of 25 parties, led the major rally from Nila Gunbad to Masjid-i-Shuhda. DPC convener Maulana Samiul Haq, Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Jamaat Islami Ameer Syed Munawwar Hasan, Allama Younus Khan, Ibtesam Elahi Zaheer, Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Moavia Azam Tariq, Ahmed Khan Awan, Hafiz Khalid Waleed and Pir Saifullah Khalid were among the leaders.

JI Syed Munawwar Hasan and Hizbul Mujahedin supreme commander Syed Salahuddin led the demonstrators from GPO Chowk to Nasir Bagh. The protesters were shouting slogans to show support to Kashmirs throughout the march.

Addressing the demonstrators at Majid-i-Shuhda, the DPC leaders stressed the need for stepping up efforts to get Kashmir liberated from India. They came down hard on the government for, what they called, putting the issue on backburner. They stressed India must learn lesson from “US-led international forces defeat in Afghanistan”.

 Citing the East Pakistan tragedy, Samjhota Express attack, Indian hand in Balochistan separatist movements, they alleged that India had been concocted plots against Pakistan since 1947.

Speaking on the occasion, the Jamaatud Dawa chief reiterated his group’s support to the Kashmiris in their fight for freedom. He alleged that India had been sponsoring terrorism in Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhawa and Sindh to dismember Pakistan.

Saeed slammed the government over flexibility to India, saying that friendship with India was out of question without resolving the Kashmir issue.

Munawar Hasan talked about sacrifices Kashmiris had made for the cause. He said the JI was not against dialogue with New Delhi over Kashmir but it could not endorse talks to put the core issue on back burner in the name of trade. He also assailed the government over its trade plan with India. “India had always deceived Pakistan under the cover of dialogue. The rulers must wake up now,” he said

He urged the United Nations to act on its resolutions on Kashmir.

The United Nations should force India to implement its resolutions in Kashmir as Kashmiris had been tortured by Indian forces. He also blamed India for sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan.

“India has not only held Kashmir on gunpoint but it has also been inflicting serious damage upon Pakistan by building dams on the Pakistani rivers with the intention to turn this country into a desert. Moreover, he added, India was sponsoring anarchy in Balochistan.

He blasted the Pervez Musharraf regime for damaging the Kashmir cause by beginning trade with India, while the present government had faithfully toed Musharraf’ line and was talking of declaring India ‘most favourite country’.

Syed Salahuddin said that the fight for freedom would continue till its logical end.