Islamabad: Pakistan observed the "Kashmir Hour" on Friday to express "solidarity" with the Kashmiri people as many rallies were held across the country, weeks after India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The nationwide, half an hour protest began as the clock struck noon. It was followed by the blaring of sirens across Pakistan, with traffic grinding to a halt for few minutes in many Pakistani cities.
The main event was held at Islamabad's Constitution Avenue where Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered an address to a flag-waving and slogan-shouting crowd.
"Today, all of Pakistan, wherever there are Pakistanis, whether they are our students, or shopkeepers or labourers, all of us are standing with the Kashmiris," Khan said.
"The Kashmiris are going through a difficult phase. Approximately 8 million Kashmiris for the last four weeks have been locked under curfew," he said.
The prime minister said the purpose of observing the nationwide protest was to apprise the Kashmiris that Pakistan shared their "grief and pain" and "fully stand by them".
"We will stand with them till the last breath," he said.
Khan said Pakistan would give a "befitting response" if India attempted to launch a "false flag operation" in Kashmir.
"There are reports that India might resort to an operation to divert international attention from the situation in KashmirThe Pakistan Army is fully prepared to thwart any external aggression," he said.
Khan said the world should realise that a clash between the two nuclear armed countries might result into a loss to the whole world.
Another event is being held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr where President Arif Alvi addressed the crowd.
Education institutions, government and private offices, banks, traders, lawyers and military authorities took part in the rallies.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated after New Delhi on August 5 revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two union territories.
Reacting to India's move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
Prime Minister Khan earlier this week gave a call for weekly protests by the nation and designated August 30 as the day for the first such demonstration to show "solidarity" with the Kashmiris.
According to the railways ministry, all trains stopped for one minute and all railway workers took part in the rallies.
The weekly protest will continue till September 27 when prime minister Khan is expected to address the UN General Assembly.
Different local leaders also addressed the gatherings.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Senate, the upper house of Parliament on friday unanimously passed a resolution strongly condemning India for revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The resolution noted that New Delhi's decision was an attempt to undermine the UN Charter, international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions on the Kashmir issue.