October 2002 News

PoK village resents Pak settlement

15 October 2002
The Daily Excelsior

Islamabad: Khark, a village in Mirpur in occupied Kashmir, is threatening to become the nucleus of a resistant movement against what they fear Pakistan intentions to reduce Kashmiris into refugees in their own state by settling Pakistanis here. Khark with its about 1,00,000 souls is to be dug up for the expansion of the Mangla dam. Mirpuris, who have already suffered massive displacement in 1967 when Gen Ayub Khan built the Mangla Dam, are in a defiant mood this time. They are threatening to lay down their lives if they were forced out of their hearth and home. The All-Party National Alliance (APNA) of nationalist parties of both parts of occupied Kashmir (ie, what Pakistan calls Northern areas and Azad Kashmir) has taken up the cudgels against the Government plan to expand the Mangla dam. These parties not only oppose the expansion of the Mangla dam but also challenge the very existence of Pakistani nationals in occupied Kashmir and demand Pakistan pay up all the royalty due from it in the past 37 years. The APNA alleges that the dam is proposed to be expanded for the benefit of Punjab and Punjabi Generals settled in occupied Kashmir, but the people of occupied Kashmir are denied even the royalty due to them from electricity that is produced by the dam for different parts of Pakistan, they say. But the most emotive issue that the APNA has been raising relates to the presence of non- Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir in violation of the state subject rules. These rules had been laid down by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 to safeguard Kashmir’s economic interests, property rights and their cultural and linguistic identity. Under these rules non-Kashmiris cannot own property in Kashmir. But APNA chairman Wajahat Hassan and secretary general Arif Shahid told newsmen here recently that these rules had been abolished by Pakistan in Northern areas in 1947 while in ''Azad'' Kashmir they were being flouted with the objective of reducing the local Kashmir population into minority. They claimed the Pakistan Government had allotted 20,000 acres of land to 200 Army Generals in Kashmir recently at throwaway price of Rs 360 per acre. This land will benefit from the expansion of Mangla Dam, they claimed. The APNA demands immediate expulsion of non-Kashmiris from the occupied state and warns against attempts to change the ethical complexion of Kashmir. The Pakistan Government has decided to raise the level of Mangla dam to increase water supply to Pakistan during lean seasons.


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