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Political, human right activists call Pakistan-occupied Kashmir a state in limbo

Islamabad: Amid Islamabad's unsuccessful efforts to constitutionally integrate Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan, human rights activists from the region along with journalists, lawyers and thinkers from Pakistan raised the human rights situation in the occupied territories at an event at Islamabad Press Club.
The event organised by United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP) was previously scheduled to be held at a hotel in the capital city, but it was cancelled due to interference by secret agencies and local administration. It was later held at the Press Club.
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri Chairman of the UKPNP said, "We strongly condemn this action of the Pakistani establishment, and we will not be intimidated by their anti-people, Jammu and Kashmir, and anti-peace policies. Our struggle against oppression, injustice, extremism, intolerance, violence and hatred will continue".
He further said, "Pakistan attacked Jammu and Kashmir and killed thousands of innocent people by violating the Standstill Agreement. Until this Pakistani obsession to capture Kashmir does not end, we people of Jammu and Kashmir will continue to suffer".
Later in a statement, the UKPNP said, "Despite overt and covert policies of the Pakistani establishment to teach lessons to people of Jammu and Kashmir who did not side with the raiders in October 1947, some naive people still erroneously think that Pakistan is their big brother".

In a declaration, the UKPNP said that PoK and Gilgit Baltistan are legal and constitutional parts of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It cautioned the Government of Pakistan to refrain from unilaterally changing the state of these areas and expressed its strong resolve that human rights must not be selective. Equality, human rights and justice must be for all the citizens.
The people of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan have been facing rampant poverty and unemployment for decades. Moreover, the people have no access to education, good health and infrastructure, although Pakistan exploits natural resources from these regions.
There are several instances of land grabbing in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan by the Pakistan Army. In a declaration, the UKPNP strongly condemned growing land grabbing in the region, where military, non-state actors and other influential people are illegally and forcefully seizing private and public property, hilltops and tourist resorts like Peer Chanasi Hill Top in Muzaffarabad district.
"These holiday resorts belonged to the people of this region, where people freely went with their families. After seizing these holiday resorts, military and non-state actors restricted access to the entire area by erecting barbed wire, and no one is allowed to enter. If someone ignores their instructions, orders are to shoot him on sight", the declaration said.
The conference also criticized the Pakistani policy of systematically plundering natural resources and constructing mega dams and diverting the natural flow of rivers in the disputed territory.
"This illegal construction and diverting of rivers result in serious environmental problems for the local people, including access to clean drinking water", it said.
They recommended the government of Pakistan take effective measures to control activities of those who promote extremism, violence and intolerance in PoK and in Gilgit Baltistan, and in various parts of Pakistan.
The conference starkly opposed brutality perpetrated on unarmed civilians who were peacefully protesting against high prices, lack of electricity, lack of clean drinking water, and systematic exploitation of our natural resources.
They reminded the Pakistani authorities that people living in this region are also human beings, just like the people of Pakistan.
"We also need clean water, electricity and other necessities. PoK produces around 3,000-megawatt electricity, and our consumption is less than 400 megawatts, at least, provide us with that. Our people suffer without electricity for long hours, and they still pay hefty bills and taxes", the declaration added.
The political activists finally restated that China is not a party to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. However, China is in occupation of Jammu and Kashmir territory - Pakistan illegally ceded territory of Shaksgam Valley from Gilgit to China in 1963.
In addition that China occupied Aqsai Chin in 1962; and China must evacuate all the territory of Jammu and Kashmir under their occupation. (ANI)

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