PoJK reserves the right to rebel

The International Human Rights Day was observed globally on December 10. It was a day when civil society organisations and several political parties held seminars and corner meetings in Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan (PoJK/GB) as well as among the exiled diaspora.

Human rights have three aspects: Social rights, political rights and economic rights. The people of PoJK/GB have been deprived of these three categories of rights since October 22, 1947, when Pakistan attacked and illegally occupied our lands.

Social rights include workers’ rights at their work place, social security, cultural rights, housing, access to clean drinking water and food, uninterrupted flow of electricity, access to health care and education.

In PoJK/GB even the line men working to fix electric cables hanging from high power wires on tall poles are not provided with proper safety gear. At most workplaces there are no medical facilities or even toilets.

There is no social security cover for the general population of four million. Our vibrant Kashmiri and Dogra culture has been strangled by imposing the hegemony of an Islamic (read Arab) religious narrative.

Hundreds of thousands live in houses made of tin metal or are forced to live on rent due to lack of a national housing program for the homeless.

Curable diseases such as hepatitis and cholera keep recurring due to lack of clean drinking water. Lack of proper affordable diet has left millions which has stunted growth.

Hospital buildings are faced with shortage of doctors and medicine, and hundreds of thousands of our children are unable to attend school due to abject poverty and are forced to enter the child labour market.

Schools face a severe shortage of teachers, toilets and dispensaries or a playground.

Hence, we have been denied our first and basic human right which is our social right.

Political rights that were usurped by the occupation force of Pakistan remain denied to this day. Only those political parties are allowed to operate in PoJK/GB which openly claim their affiliation with the ideology of two-nation theory of Muhammed Ali Jinnah and sign an oath of allegiance to Pakistan.

Candidates, who aspire to participate in elections for legislative assembly or the local bodies, are only permitted to do so if they sign an oath that they support the accession of PoJK/GB to the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

All forms of political dissent are brutally crushed and political activists who dare to challenge Pakistani occupation are often assassinated.

The third component of human rights deals with economic rights. In PoJK/GB there has never been any attempt by Pakistan to develop an industrial infrastructure.

Millions are unemployed and are forced into economic exile in Europe, the US and the Middle East to perform no-to-low skill jobs so that they can send remittances to their families back home.

All natural resources such as rivers and forest land remain under the tight control of the Government of Pakistan. Our natural resources are plundered day and night and precious stones, gold, and rubies worth billions of rupees are stolen each year. Our forest trees are cut down and sold in the timber markets of Pakistani Punjab. Not a single penny from this plunder comes our way.

Due to lack of funds the PoJK/GB government is unable to purchase wheat and other food essentials or pay wages to thousands of employees of several government and semi- government institutions such as forest department, health workers, and others. Lack of power and electricity has left hundreds of businesses go burst which has increased the number of unemployed and those in destitute.

The list of human rights violations and abuse we face in the PoJK/GB due to being under the occupation of Pakistan goes on and on.

However, we have one right that we have the liberty to exercise. This is the right to fight the social, political and economic oppression of Pakistan by rebelling against the above mentioned injustices we face.

This right we are exercising now as thousands of our oppressed people not only refuse to accept the occupation of our territories by Pakistan but are now giving the rebellion a direction to get liberation from Pakistan.

(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK.)

20221215-123402

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