Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday criticised India for its decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state, even as he used his Independence Day speech to express solidarity with the state which has been a contentious issue between the neighbours.
"Independence Day is an opportunity for great happiness, but today we are saddened by the plight of our Kashmiri brothers…," Khan said in a statement. "I assure my Kashmiri brothers that we stand with them," he said, adding, “Pakistan will continue to provide its political, moral and diplomatic support to their just struggle for self-determination.”
Pakistan President Arif Alvi too expressed solidarity with Kashmir, saying "Kashmiris and Pakistanis are one" people.
Addressing the main function here to mark the 73rd Independence Day, he reiterated Pakistan government's stand against India's move on Article 370 and added that by changing the special status of Kashmir, India not only violated the UN resolution but also the Shimla Agreement.
India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution is an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
Alvi in his speech reaffirmed Pakistan's support to the people of Kashmir. "We will not leave them alone at any stage. Kashmiris and Pakistanis are one. Our grief is common... We were with them; we are standing with them and will continue to do so," the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported quoting Alvi as saying.
He said India has been violating the ceasefire agreements by firing and shelling on civilian populations along the Line of Control.
"Pakistan is a peace-loving country and wants to resolve the Kashmir dispute through negotiations and dialogue. India, however, should not misunderstand our policy of peace as our weakness," he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistanis across the country celebrated the Independence Day, media reports said.
The day dawned with the usual official functions and ceremonies — a 31-gun salute in the capital and 21-gun salutes in the four provincial capitals as well as a major event in Islamabad in which top government functionaries and armed forces' officials took part.
Special prayers were offered at the mosques for peace, progress and prosperity of the country. Pakistan has decided to observe the Independence Day as 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' and August 15 (India's Independence Day) as 'Black Day' to protest India's J&K decision.