Youths are blocking roads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir over Islamabad’s policies to sideline them. PoK’s four million residents have never been allowed to speak a word and address their political and socio-economic grievances. Its high unemployment rate, poor infrastructure, and lack of resources force its citizens to migrate to large cities of Pakistan where they are only allowed menial jobs as labourers, cleaners at hotels, drivers, etc. Through the nation, they are treated as outsiders, second-class citizens, or maybe not humans at all looking at the present scenario. … a special report by Dr Sakariya Kareem
The story of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a tragic tale of conscious neglect, political suppression, denial of freedom of speech and liberty, calculated demographic changes, violence, illegal detentions, electoral rigging, and all that falls under the category of colonialism. Pakistan is unable even to provide the bare minimum necessary to keep people alive in its colonized state. Does one wonder if Pakistan’s aim to capture ‘Azad’ Kashmir 75 years ago was indeed for their genuine concern for Kashmiris or was it a means to an end?
PoK’s four million residents have never been allowed to speak a word and address their political and socio-economic grievances. Its high unemployment rate, poor infrastructure, and lack of resources force its citizens to migrate to large cities of Pakistan where they are only allowed menial jobs as labourers, cleaners at hotels, drivers, etc. Through the nation, they are treated as outsiders, second-class citizens, or maybe not humans at all looking at the present scenario.
At the beginning of this fiscal year, India’s Finance Minister presented a US$13.33 billion budget for the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory. New Delhi allocates nearly five times more funds to J&K than Islamabad allocates for PoK.
At the 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, UKPNP (United Kashmir People’s National Party) chairman and human rights activist Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri held a demonstration at the ‘Broken Chair’ monument to condemn Pakistan’s forcible occupation of Kashmir and serious human rights violations in PoK. He said: “Pakistan has no locus-standi on its occupied Kashmir. It has illegally occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Back home, Pakistan is fighting tooth and nail to put an end to rallies in Muzaffarabad (PoK) through threats and torture, nothing out of the ordinary. It has given a free hand to Pakistan Army in the region to mellow down the angry mobs through ‘whatever ways necessary’.
Since July 1, women and children have been sitting on roads for days in PoK, shouting slogans of freedom and demanding Army to return to Barracks. Many people have been arrested; and what are their crimes? Wanting basic facilities such as water, social opportunities, education institutions, and healthcare. Underdevelopment and disenfranchisement have taken people to the streets!
The Planning and Development Department of PoK reports that 50 per cent of the total population of the region has no access to piped water; 78 per cent of the total households have no tap water connections. And on the other hand, the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a ticking bomb for PoK, which can swipe all lives in the area. The electricity produced in PoK relieves the heat in Punjab, while people of the region face load shedding of 18 to 20 hours. The water of rivers is diverted for hydropower projects built by Chinese companies.
For three years in a row, there is a severe shortage of food grains leading to starvation. Ex-servicemen have not seen a single paisa in the name of pension, and government employees have not received salaries in a year.
Since July 2 the locals of Gilgit-Baltistan have staged a sit-in blocking the Karakoram Highway in Nasirabad, Hunza, to protest against the minerals department for permitting mining leases to an outsider company. There are rumours that Pakistan may cede Gilgit-Baltistan to China on lease to pay off its growing debt. They will do anything to appease China – their puppet masters. Chairman of Karakoram National Movement, Mumtaz Nagri, expressed her fear but told people to stand their ground and “not to be scared of Pakistan’s spy agency and be prepared to go to jail”. The people at large recently expressed a desire to merge with India.
All those who oppose the government in PoK are labelled as traitors or agents, and then put through a series of torture, humiliation, or even worse – jail. Since its inception, Islamabad has exploited the land, resources, and people of PoK indiscriminately. Pakistan’s ISI works with fundamentalist mullahs in designing and implementing the extremist version of Islam, forming a public opinion to incite Jihad in J&K UT.
There is a palpable fear of the Pakistani military, the ISI, and terror outfits acting independently or as government representatives. Terrorist training camps in PoK have the latest modern weapons and communication gadgets, awarded to them by the Pakistani Army.
The PoK Interim Constitution (13th Amendment) Act, 2018 states, “No person or political party in ‘Azad’ Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the state’s accession to Pakistan.”
Now what more evidence do the International Peace bodies need to deduce Pakistan’s ambitions with its colony?
For the Punjabi Taliban network, an extension of Punjabi-origin Taliban, PoK is the epicentre of their cross-border terrorist activities and drug racket. The annual drug trade in Afghanistan (more than US$33 billion) is used to fund the Taliban.
In the past few years when a proxy war was orchestrated in the name of Kashmir Jihad, heroin ran through the veins of the public like a river. The educated PoK youth that once stood up against the Pakistani government are now heroin victims. There is a conspiracy to paralyze the youth and slowly eliminate the resistance.
One must be so shameless to talk about ‘Kashmir Solidarity with Indian UT of J&K when people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan live lesser than animals.