by Farooq Ganderbali
Demonstrators in Pakistan occupied Kashmir always raise voices against the Islamabad, even though it is not represented in Pakistan’s National Assembly. Though initiated with various reasons including protests against the hydroelectric dam over Neelum river, shrinking of job opportunities and anti-people activities by both state and non-state actors, the inherent demands always remain the freedom from Islamabad.
A number of protest-demonstrations across the PoK expressed angers against Islamabad for misusing their local resources. Similar protests were also orchestrated in Geneva (in front of UNHRC) and London (in front of Pakistan High Commission), where the participants demanded genuine freedom and dignity for PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan residences. In the presence of many Sindhi and Baloch political activists in those programs, the agitators chanted slogans like ‘Stop Human Rights Violations in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan’, ‘Save Neelum to Save Muzaffarabad’ etc.
Even massive protests were observed at Rawalkot locality raising voices against Islamabad’s aids to anti-India terror activities in PoK. The protesters accused various Pak authorities (including ISI) of providing supports to terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen etc.
When faced international pressures to crack down terror groups, the Islamabad regime often uses PoK as a safe haven for the terrorists. Admitting the presence of Islamist fundamentalist elements in PoK, a Muzaffarabad based journalist (Haris Qadeer), who used to edit once the highest circulated Urdu newspaper Daily Mujadala, pointed out that the growth of radical elements and terrorism had affected local aspirations for a greater Kashmir.
Qadeer stated that the PoK residents would have little expectation from the new regime of Pakistan. Talking about the communication in PoK, the editor disclosed that there is still no train connectivity and presently no operational airport as those are being occupied by the Pakistani militaries.
So the PoK people have to move to Islamabad (around 90 km from Muzaffarabad) or Rawalpindi (138 km) by road before they can proceed to other places (including foreign countries). As the healthcare infrastructure in PoK is poor, the affluent families prefer to move out for treatments. Many patients with liver ailments want to go to various hospitals in India, but there are restrictions from the Pakistan government, revealed Qadeer adding that Islamabad also put prohibitions for Indian tourists to visit PoK, which has very little non-Muslim population.
While appreciating the vibrant Indian media, nurtured with constitutional safeguards, Qadeer expressed concern over the restricted media freedom in his place. He narrated the story of Daily Mujadala (www.dailymujadala.com), which is now under ban by the Pak government for one year.
by Farooq Ganderbali