Life on Pakistani side of divide.
Dr Shabir Choudhry
First of all it is important to understand that areas of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan are also part of State of Jammu and Kashmir, generally known as Kashmir.
Ordinary people on both sides of the forced division suffer in many ways, and deprived of their basic human rights. Those who support Indian rule on one side of the divide are rewarded handsomenly, but those who oppose this and fight for independence face serious consequences.
The situation on the other side of the divide, areas under Pakistan, is not much better as those who support the Pakistani rule there are also rewarded, and those who oppose the social and political system imposed by Pakistan pay prices in different ways.
Those who are considered as genuine threat to the system imposed by Islamabad and Pakistani secret agencies are dealt with heavy hand – people are intimidated, harassed, implicated in false cases and imprisoned. They could be physically attacked, injured and looted, and the authorities will make it appear as an activity of bandits. In extreme cases people could be terminated, and this could again be in form of a staged accident, robbery or mugging which ended up in a death. Because there is no Kashmiri media or even an independent Pakistani media, most of these events go unnoticed, or they are seen as unfortunate accidents.
Two examples will help to understand the situation. A lecturer who is very well known for his pro independent views and who have suffered in the past because of frequent transfers in to various remote places away from family and his village, denied of due promotion, had some problems with one eye cartrate. Doctors suggested a simple operation.
Before he was taken to the operation theatre, and man walked in to room and takes the doctor away for a quick chat. The man is known in the area as a member of ISI Pakistan notorious secret agency, and before he left he said our Professor Sahib is important, please look after him. This simple operation resulted in loss of sight in that eye. Many believe that under fear or on instructions of that man the doctor did what he must not have done.
In another case a nationalist Kashmiri activist who opposed the Pakistani rule in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan had some problems with his kidney. His brother volunteered to donate his kidney that they both could live. But it was unfortunate that both brothers lost their lives, and it is widely believed that local agencies played their role and with help of doctor ‘terminated’ both nationalist Kashmiris.
These two events were told to me by local nationalist Kashmiris in Muzaffarabad during my highly publicised recent visit to Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. I was specifically advised not to get any treatment should I get ill in Azad Kashmir, otherwise my dead body will fly back to UK. Even if I get ill in Islamabad, I was advised to seek medical help very carefully from those I can trust, especially from a foreign medical institute.
While I was in Islamabad in February 2004, we heard burning of 4/5 schools in Gilgit and Baltistan. Why would someone burn a school? Those who control the region don’t want people to be educated, because education brings awareness and tell people what their rights are and how to fight for these rights. The best way to control is to ensure that people don’t get consciousness or knowledge that they could become aware of their rights.
I was also told by more than one person that during those as a result of some demonstrations fifteen people lost their lives. Did you or anyone else saw any news item on this? No, because there is no media there. In an Area of more than 28,0000 sq miles, there is no daily paper, no radio station, no TV no university no medical, college no engineering college and the list could go on and on.
After 9/11 Pakistani government and their agencies, are targeting the following kinds of people: (A) those who oppose Pakistani rule, (B) those who oppose the peace process, (C) those who oppose division of Kashmir what the Musharaf government is planning to do,(D) those who are considered as Islamic fundamentalists, they don’t have to prove that in any court of law, if you don’t like the guy, get rid off him in name of terrorism is the rule applied, (E) those who have personal scores to settle because of tribal rivalry, family feuds or out of favour with local aristocrats/ and war lords.
The following news items also support what I have said. 1.
Press Release 06 May 2004, Toronto,
United Kashmir Peoples National Party The arrest of Sardar Altaf Khan President of UKPNP District Sdhnuti along with Qari Niseer President of Transport union Trarkhel is an act of violation and harassment by the state authorities in order to please the Pakistani agencies those are real cause of their arrests.While police is still harassing other UKPNP leaders and their families in order to silence the protest they have launched for the economical and political rights of the Area. The arrests have been made purely on the behalf and direction of Pakistani intelligence agencies in order to harass the UKPNP leaders and carders and those who raise their voices for the political and economical rights of the people of Pakistan controlled Kashmir.Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmir Chairman UKPNP, and Mumtaz Khan chief Organizer have condemned the arrests and continuous harassment of political leaders and activists, and demanded immediate release of the detainees and to stop the harassment of other activists.They said in their joint statement that state authorities cannot stop people from raising their voice against the economical and political discrimination and injustice existing within the Pakistan controlled part. Pakistan government which misses no opportunity to raise the issue of human rights of Indian controlled Kashmir but denying the same rights and suppressing people voices in its controlled parts doesn't correspond to its claims about the Kashmiri's.They said there is no difference between India and Pakistan policies when question of Kashmiri's economical and political rights is raised.Pakistani rulers such practices are not only violation of fundamental rights but also fall beyond the mandate of UN resolutions to which its owes its presence, and forcing or suppressing the voices of common people exposes its real face and claims it makes regarding the aspiration of Kashmiri's.The inability of local authorities and government to protect the basic rights of the people of Pakistan controlled part deserve immediate attention of world human rights organization and media to end this act of suppress regarding that we have approached and enlightened them with the current situation and demanded to take an urgent action to seek release of the detained leaders.M.Mumtaz KhanChief Organizer United Kashmir peoples National Party
Palandri police has arrested more than two activists, Altaf Khan(UKPNP)and Qari Naseer (JKLF) and some others, they were protesting fordemands for Trarkhal and also formed an action committee in Trarkal , during this protest they have some hard and hot talks with administrationand a case of treason has been charged against them, Qari Naseer hasalready granted bale ,but when he appread in court he arrested and arguedthat there can not be bale of treason case.It should be noted that Qari Naseer is not only a political activist but also a social activist and always played active and front line role for demandsproblems of common people in Trarkhal . as well as Altaf Khan has been struggling for an independent Kashmir and played very active role from the platform of PNP since more than 18 years.and he always raised his voice against the brutal authorities of Pakistan in Kashmir.The arrest of such activists shows that how much is the freedom of expression in Pakistani occupied Kashmir ,while people are not allowed to even speak for their social rights and demands.It should also be noted here that they were damanding the upgradation of InterCollege Trarkhal and for the reconstruction of road from Trarkhal to Hajira ,but a case of treason has been filed against them.We should also keep in mind that the occupant forces of Pakistan in its held partof Kashmir do not want any one to raise any voice in the favour of human rights or for the problems of people.And if some one do so he will have to face explosive consequences as already happend in past.Raja Habib Secretary General Kashmir Thinker Forum ,Wajid Ali wajid UKPNPAzher Kasher JKLF, Basheer Mughal KLF Zareen Khan advocate, JKNAPand other activists of different organization have strongly denounced the arrestof Altaf Khan and Qari Naseer and demanded their release.Rasheed Khan. 3. Govt policies leading Azad Kashmir to civil war: JKLFSaturday May 01, 2004 (0420 PST) Toqueer GilaniRAWALPINDI, May 02 (Online): The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has said the policies of Sikandar government are cropping up a civil war like situation in Azad Kashmir. In a joint statement issued here on Saturday, JKLF chairman Amanullah Khan, chairman of policy and planning division of the party Sardar Khadim Hussain and JKLF spokesman Dr. Tauqeer Gillani slammed the present government for arresting party leaders. They said the arrests of Qari Naseer and Sardar Altaf in Tarrarkhul is tantamount to state terrorism of Sikandar regime. They said the people are being forced to start violent protest against the arrests. The JKLF leaders said the present government had failed to provide any relief to the common man and now, it is not allowing people to peacefully protest against what they called public-crushing policies and for the addressal of their problems and grievances .They warned the government against dire consequences if it failed to release the detained leaders immediately. End.
I have explained the situation in brief, but should anyone requires more information, I am prepared to answer specific questions.
I want to conclude by saying that I have thorough knowledge of the Kashmiri struggle and its current situation. My Mhil and PhD thesis are on subject of Kashmir, and I am author of more than 15 books on Kashmir. Also I regularly write on current affairs. Some of my writings could be found by doing a google search of my name: Shabir Choudhry
Dr Shabir Choudhry
Writer is a Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of JKLF and author of many books and booklets. Also he is a Spokesman of International Kashmir Alliance. Email: email@example.com