Monday, June 17, 2024

Universal-will of PoJK-GB will bring freedom

Twenty people have died in road accidents in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan (PoGB) in less than a week.

Three people died on June 13 when a jeep travelling from Gilgit to Skardu, in PoGB, fell into a deep ravine killing Muzamil Hussian, coordinator of the chief minister of PoGB. His father and mother also died in the accident and Husain’s sister is fighting for her life in a hospital.

On June 12 a coach carrying 28 pilgrims in PoJK plunged into a deep ravine killing nine passengers. And on June 9 eight people lost their lives when a coach dived into a deep ravine near Chitral in PoGB.

Lack of proper safety procedures, especially lack of safety walls on mountainous roads, is the main cause for loss of lives in road accidents in both PoJK and PoGB.

A youth organisation by the name of Jammu Kashmir People’s Lives Matter has been campaigning for the construction of safety walls in and around the capital city of Muzafarabad in PoJK, but the government or even the civil society has not paid any attention to their campaign.

The government of both occupied territories lacks development funds to start big development projects and the people of PoJK seem to have lost hope that under the occupation of Pakistan their lives will ever become better.

The conditions of health infrastructure are no different. Recently it was reported that the hospitals in PoJK have run out of anti-snakebite vaccines. Lack of specialist doctors in PoJK and gynaecologists in PoGB have left the population with no choice but to travel for hours and days to hospitals in Pakistan.

However, the Pakistan Army stationed in PoJK and PoGB have built for themselves Combined Military Hospitals (CMH) where the military personnel and their families get the best health care.

Lack of school staff is another area of concern in PoJK-GB. Children have no special needs educational care available to them. The school buildings that had collapsed during the 2005 October earthquake remain in ruins and in most of the cases children are forced by circumstances to attend school in the open.

The elderly have no guarantee that they will receive their pensions on time. For months pensioners have been taking out protest rallies against non-payment of pensions.

This month Pakistan announced an increase of 17 per cent in pensions, which was rejected by the Pensioners Association of PoJK. They are demanding a 100 per cent increase in their pensions that they seldom receive.

Unemployment is rampant and most of the young men are forced to migrate to a foreign country to work in lowly paid unskilled jobs.

On June 13 Indian Home minister Amit Shah announced an Rs 8,000 crore disaster management fund. This will be used to upgrade fire brigade services in all states in India, flood prevention and safety measures in seven big cities and landslide prevention schemes in 17 states across the country.

On the contrary, in Pakistan the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is a lame organisation with a military general sitting at the top as its chairman.

In December 2020, the then chairman of the NDMA, Lt. General Muhammad Afzal, was arrested and accused of stealing $300 million from the NDMA funds.

In short, PoJK-GB is a colony of Pakistan, a country that in turn is a colony of the Pakistan military establishment. Therefore, to expect that even a single penny for infrastructure development would come our way is foolish.

In general the situation of PoJK-GB is dire and requires out of the box thinking. The need for a parallel administrative body to lead the oppressed people of PoJK- GB has never been so pressing as it is today.

The suffering of the people of PoJK-GB at the hands of their colonial oppressor, Pakistan, must come to an end. This can only happen with the universal resolve of the population of PoJK-GB to free themselves of the illegal occupation of Pakistan since October 22, 1947.

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

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