LAHORE   -   The nation observed Defence Day as Kashmir Solidarity Day on Friday as part of an ongoing campaign to show support for the Kashmiris’ struggle for right to self-determination.

Last month, the nation celebrated its 72nd Independence Day as Kashmir Solidarity Day.  Special prayers were offered for solidarity and development of the country and freedom of Kashmir from the Indian occupation at Fajr and Friday prayers.

The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in all federating units, including Lahore.  Political and religio-political parties, government departments, public and private sector institutions, including schools, arranged events to pay tribute to martyrs of the 1965 war and show solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Offices throughout the country were closed at 3pm to show solidarity with Kashmiri people.

Newspapers published special editions while state owned PTV and private channels aired special programmes. Art galleries arranged exhibitions to highlight the gallantry of soldiers and miseries of the innocent people of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

In Lahore, a flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah border, change of guard at the mausoleum of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, visits of dignitaries to Yadgar-e-Shuhada at Batapur, meetings with families of martyrs at their homes, flag hoisting at government buildings and events at public and private educational institutions were highlights of the day. Slogans of ‘Kashmir Banega Pakistan’ echoed on the premises of various institutions and schools.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq said the entire nation was proud of the armed forces, which rendered countless sacrifices in defence of the county.

Talking to the media after laying a wreath and offering prayers at Yadgar-e-Shuhada in Batapur, Siraj said every individual stands by the armed forces to thwart conspiracies against integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan.

“The dream of our forefathers to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state has yet to be realized,” he said, adding the nation should stand united to achieve this goal and back the patriotic forces struggling hard to transform the country into an ideological state according to the vision of the Quaid and Iqbal.

JI Deputy Chief Liaqat Baloch addressed a rally in connection with the Defence Day. He said September 6 was the historic day when the nation and the armed forces proved that they would be standing like a rock to defend country’s sovereignty.

Law Minister Raja Basharat and Punjab Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar visited Yadgar-e-Shuhada, laid floral wreaths and offered Fateha.

Khokhar said that those who sacrificed lives for motherland made history of valour and bravery. He said that great nations never forget their martyrs.

Addressing the Defence Day related event at Ameer Uddin Medical College, Principal Prof Sardar Mohammad Alfareed Zafar said that medical professionals have more responsibility as they have to work side by side with the armed forces in the war. “The day reminds us the sacrifices of our soldiers for the beloved motherland,” he said, adding that no one could harm the country due to tested and capable army, navy and the air-force. Medical Superintendent Dr Mahmud Salah Uddin, faculty members, nursing superintendents, doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and students in a large number were present on this occasion.

Prof Alfareed Zafar said that defence and security of Pakistan were collective responsibility of the entire nation.

At another ceremony, a wreath was laid at the grave of Major Shabbir Sharif Shaheed (Nishan-e-Haider) at Miani Sahib Graveyard. Special prayers were offered for freedom of Indian-occupied Kashmir as well as martyrs of the war and Kashmir after Friday prayers.

People expressed solidarity with people of Kashmir by organising rallies outside different mosques.

The Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (PILAC) on Friday took out a rally to express solidarity with Kashmiris.

Employees of PILAC besides audience of FM Punjab Rang radio participated in the rally which started from Punjabi Complex and terminated at the same place after passing Nishtar Complex, Ferozepur Road.

The participants were carrying banners and placards inscribed with different slogans in favour of freedom of Kashmir and the Pak Army and against Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi.

Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmed has announced admission quota, free education, free hostel accommodation and scholarships for children of martyrs of the Pakistan Army and Police.

Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education BISE Chairman Ismail Chaudhary announced “free education” for children of martyrs of the Pakistan Army and police on Friday. 

The PU VC addressing a press conference on Defence Day said that PU had allocated two seats at each department and around 225 children of martyrs would be admitted every year on quota on the nomination of institutions concerned.

“Children of martyrs, admitted on quota as well as on merit, would be provided free education and scholarship of Rs 5,000 per month and also free hostel accommodation,” he said.

He said that Pakistan Army was defending boundaries with valour and had presented great sacrifices while safeguarding the nation and the country.

PU VC also led a rally from the Institute of Education and Research to Gate No 1 through main campus road to mark Defence Day.

Hundreds of teachers, employees and students took part in the rally. Pakistan and Kashmir’s national anthems were played on the occasion.

A number of lawyers expressed expresses solidarity with Kashmiri people.

 They were carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans in support of the Kashmiri people and against India’s state terrorism.

They also chanted slogans against Modi-led government and in favour of oppressed people of Kashmir. On the occasion, speakers said Kashmir belongs to the people of Kashmir and the simmering issue should be resolved according to their will. They also condemned the Indian move of revocation of the Article 370 of its constitution.

They termed the move illegal as it was not backed by the constituent assembly of Indian-Held Kashmir. Pakistani government and people always opposed India and supported the people of Kashmir, they said.