Kashmiris and Pakistanis on Sunday formed symbolic human chains at different points linking Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) with Islamabad to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day.
A gathering was held on a bridge over river Jhelum in border town of Kohala, some 35 kms south of Muzaffarbad, with participants from PaK and neighbouring provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab braving downpour to manifest "eternal bonds of brotherhood between Kashmiris and Pakistanis." Schoolchildren, who were part of the gathering, held small flags of Pakistan and PaK and placards inscribed with slogans condemning "Indian brutalities" in Kashmir and paying tributes to Kashmiris. They also raised pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
A unique aspect of the gathering was participation of public representatives from all four provinces as well as PaK.
Balochistan chief minister's adviser Muhammad Khan Lehri, Sindh minister Imdad Ali Pitafi, KP minister Haji Sikandar Khan Lodhi and Punjab minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar were greeted by PaK minister Sardar Mir Akbar Khan at the bridge.
Speaking on the occasion, they said Pakistan would never back out of its political, moral and diplomatic support to the just cause of Kashmiris.
They called upon the international community to take stock of "unrelenting atrocities in Indian-held Kashmir and play its role in finding a durable solution to the lingering dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people."
Reports said similar gatherings were held at some other points at PaK's border with Pakistan.
In Muzaffarabad city, a number of rallies were taken out under the aegis of different political and religious parties.
At about 10 am Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) organised a big rally at Bank Road, with women and children among its participants. They also formed a symbolic chain to express solidarity with their brethren across the Line of Control (LoC).
PaK chief and MLA Abdur Rashid Turabi led funeral prayers in-absentia for two militants killed in a gunbattle with forces in Sopore area of Kashmir on Saturday.
A big vehicular rally was taken out from Chattar, with PAK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and some of his cabinet members among the participants.
The rally included floats, which were decorated with banners and flags as well as portraits of the victims of pellets and bullets.
It concluded outside the Press Club where Haider inaugurated a roundabout named after slain Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani.
The prime minister also signed a banner which called upon the UN to take stock of human rights violations in Kashmir and play its due role in early settlement of the issue.
Earlier, a group of schoolchildren took out a rally from Shaukat Lines to Burhan Wani Chowk to express solidarity with victims of pellets guns.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not fly to Muzaffarabad to address a special joint session of the PaK Legislative Assembly and the PaK Council to mark the Solidarity Day. However, the House assembled and was addressed by PaK President Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan, who was sjared the dais with Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir.
Calling for a peacefully negotiated settlement of Kashmir issue to save the region from a devastating war, the President made it clear that the "quest for a peaceful solution through dialogue and diplomacy should not be misconstrued as our weakness."
Earlier, Prime Minister Haider and Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir also expressed their views in the House.
However, the 10-member opposition, comprising PPP, PTI and Muslim Conference, boycotted the session and accused the PML-N government of "mocking the word 'solidarity'."
"Given the importance of the day and sacrifices being rendered by the people of held-Kashmir, Prime Minister Sharif should have come to Muzaffarabad. But he regrettably took it very lightly and it amounts to humiliation of Kashmiris," PTI lawmaker Abdul Majid Khan said.
"Even if the weather was not favourable, the premier should have travelled to Muzaffarabad by road if he really wanted to express solidarity with Kashmiris," Khan said.
He said on the one hand, there is "no let up in Indian brutalities in held Kashmir", and on the other "the government of Pakistan has lately allowed screening of Indian films in the country." "This is tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of Kashmiris."
The PTI leader alleged that even PaK government did not take the opposition on board with regard to the Solidarity Day functions.
"Hostile attitude of the PML-N government apart, we hereby declare that our hearts go out to our brethren across the divide. They have been putting up a heroic struggle against an oppressive regime. We salute their courage and valiance," he said.