PoK Nationalists Highlight Human Rights Violation
1 September 2005
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Kashmiri nationalist freedom fighters, who have been forced to flee Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) to sojourn in the West, get a chance every year to tell the world of oppressive, inhuman conditions in their part of Kashmir. This chance comes when the United Nations Human Rights Commission's Sub-Commission has its session in Geneva during July - August. This year's interventions highlighted, besides, what they called animal-like treatment of the people of PoK, absence of the concept of human rights in Pakistan itself. These interventions also detailed the role of jehadis as assigned to them by the ISI to suppress pro-freedom nationalists in PoK including Gilgit-Baltistan, which Pakistan claims to be its Northern Areas. They also belie the General Pervez Musharraf Government's claim that it is busy fighting global terrorism. A few of these interventions said terrorist camps were still being run in PoK under official patronage. They also said keeping PoK economically backward was a policy so that there is no effective challenge to the Pakistani occupation. Terrorists trained in PoK target economic assets in Kashmir in an effort to backwards this region too. Speaking on behalf of the World Federation of Trade Unions, Mr Amir Shah told the UN Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights that Pakistani settlers in Gilgit-Baltistan (locals call it Balawaristan) treated the local population worse than animals; suppressed basic human rights and created communal and sectarian divide with the help of Talibanised terrorists and Wahabi Mullahs. Pakistani settlers here have a large number of drug and arms runners among them. According to Mr Amir Shah, these terrorists were also used to launch hostile activities across the border particularly in Kashmir. He said: 'the presence of these ISI trained terrorists has let loose a reign of terror in the whole region and even a slightest voice raised against the colonial approach of Islamabad is curbed with iron fist.' He said the camps in Gilgit-Baltistan trained terrorists from Kashmir, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia for launching jehad in different parts of the world. The presence of these camps had affected the local culture and age-old values and traditions. These camps are being run in Astore, Skardu, Gilgit and Diamar. 'Al-Qaeda members are visiting some time Nasarul Islam madrasa in Konodas, Gilgit, for getting new orders and directions,' he said. Another PoK Kashmiri nationalist Mumtaz Khan, speaking from the platform of European Union of Public Relations, said Pakistan was denying fundamental rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan but was using their land for launching jehad in Kashmir 'where its impacts on culture and politics have been ruinous...' But while terrorists are being trained here, the locals who raise their voice against their deprivation are branded terrorists and punished. At least one speaker said the Pakistan Government suppressed human rights not only in PoK but also within its own country. Mr Mohammad Zafar Khan, who spoke on behalf of the International Institute for Peace, recalled two widely reported cases of gang rape. In both cases, victims were further victimised and humiliated while rapists went scot-free. In the first incident, one poor woman Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped on the orders of a jirga. The Government took away her passport to prevent her from travelling abroad. In another case, one Dr. Shazia Khan was gang-raped by Army Officer in Baluchistan and forced to leave the country. General Musharraf himself pronounced the rapists innocent before a tribunal could give its verdict. Some speakers said targetting of economic freedom and liberal social and cultural ethos were part of terrorists' agenda in different parts of the world. Speaking for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Tahir Naseem Manhas said: 'If we look around us today, whether it is in London Sharm-el-Sheikh, Istanbul, Ayodhya (India) or even the 9-11 incident in New York, it is quite clear that the targetting of economic activity is being given primacy by those seeking to impose obscurantism and militant ideology on the free world.' In Kashmir, he said terrorists target economy 'with the objective of perpetrating an artificial sense of discontentment in the locals which in turn could be projected as a manifestation of alienation of the people from India.' He said sponsors of terrorism in Kashmir seek to conclude agreement with the Government of India for the economic prosperity of their own people. But they sponsor terrorism to ensure that the common man in Jammu and Kashmir does not get peace and progress economically. In PoK, the Pakistani policies are designed to keep locals economically backward. Mr Abbas Butt, who represented World Peace Council, said: 'People of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan are colonised and exploited by the Pakistani authorities. Instead of building economic structure to help people of these areas, they have developed jehad as an industry.' The policy of Islamabad is to encourage Shia-Sunni clashes, which result in lose of life and destruction of property and business in Gilgit-Baltistan. Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, who suffered long jail terms and torture in PoK, said socio-economic indicators like health, education, gender equality, communication and power remained shockingly low in both Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan called 'Azad Kashmir'. (All speakers said the word 'Azad' was a misnomer). On the other hand, said Mr Kashmiri, Islamabad was encouraging mushroom growth of madrasas, which preached hatred. The world should take a serious note of PoK nationalists' statements about terrorists' conspiracy to destroy economic assets and progress of targeted countries.