J&K More Free Than PoK, Says US Survey
24 December 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Washington DC: Disputing Pakistan's claims of Indian oppression in Jammu and Kashmir, a survey by a US think tank has said the State has a greater degree of freedom than Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The 'freedom of the world reprt 2005' has classified PoK as 'not free' as compared to 'partly free' status for Jammu and Kashmir. The pronouncement by the think tank freedom house challenges Pakistan's charges of oppression by India in Jammu and Kashmir and its calls for 'self-determination' for the State. The annual survey, released earlier this week, ranks countries on the basis of political rights and civil liberties. India, with a ranking of 2.5 is the only country in south Asia that is classified as 'free'. Disputing claims of democracy by military-ruled Pakistan, the survey lists Pakistan, with a ranking of 5.5, as 'not free,' suggesting that its status is worse than India's 'partly free' Jammu and Kashmir. Other south Asian states - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal -all rate better than Pakistan with their 'partly free' status. Expectedly, most western Europe states and the United States top the freedom chart with a ranking of 1. India has been ranked along with Brazil, Philippines and Thailand below Greece, Japan, South Africa, Taiwan, South Korea and Israel among others. In an assessment of territories classified as 'disputed', only northern Turkish cyprus has been rated 'free.' Jammu and Kashmir, along with Nagorno-Karabakh (disputed between Armenia and Azarbaijan), is rated 'partly free.' PoK, Tibet, Israeli- occupied Territories, Palestinian-occupied Territories, Chechnya and Kosovo are considered 'not free.' The report says 89 countries are 'free' and their 2.8 billion inhabitants (44 per cent of the world's population) enjoy a broad range of rights. There are 54 countries under the 'partly free' category, representing 1.2 billion people (19 per cent), where political rights and civil liberties are more limited and corruption, dominant ruling parties or ethnic or religious strife are often the norm. Labelling 49 countries 'not free', the survey says the 2.4 billion inhabitants (37 per cent) of these countries, nearly three-fifths of whom live in China, are denied most basic political rights and civil liberties. Among the worst rated countries are Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan and Turkmenistan. The ratings reflect global events from December 1, 2003 through November 30, 2004. Country narratives will be released in book form in spring 2005. Since 1978, freedom house has published freedom in the world, an annual comparative assessment of the State of political rights and civil liberties in 192 countries and 14 related and disputed territories. Founded over 60 years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, freedom house has been a vigorous proponent of democratic values and a steadfast opponent of dictatorships. It is a non- profit, nonpartisan organisation that conducts an array of US and overseas research, advocacy, education, and training initiatives that promote human rights, democracy, free market economics, the rule of law, independent media, and US engagement in international affairs.