Even as Pakistan accuses India of large-scale rights violations and repression in Jammu and Kashmir, a recent news report has highlighted ‘massive human rights violations’ in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. CNN-IBN has reported that the Pakistani establishment is using ‘brute force’ to suppress rebellion in the region.
This is not the first time that such allegations have come to the fore. A report by the NGO Human Rights Watch in 2006 had detailed widespread torture, tight controls of freedom of expression and dominance of the Pakistani army in governing the area. The report had been written in the context of the massive earthquake to hit PoK in October 2005, which brought the attention of the international community to the region.
“While Jammu and Kashmir state had known considerable tourist traffic prior to the beginning of the insurgency there, the areas of Kashmir on the other side of the LoC had seen little external interest or presence after the end of the British colonial era in 1947 — a situation used by Pakistan to exercise absolute control over the territory,” the report said.
The HRW report, while referring to ‘Azad Kashmir’ as a ‘legal anomaly’, says that the Pakistani establishment, in practice, controls all aspects of political life. The report raises a red flag over issues of “strict curbs on political pluralism, a “muzzled press” and arbitrary arrest, detention and torture” by the Pakistani military.
The report calls for the Pakistani government to release those imprisoned for their political views, repeal curbs on freedom of expression and prosecute those involved in rights violations.
According to an ANI report in March, exiled leaders from PoK had raised concerns over human rights violations and extra-judicial killings at a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Reacting to the recent reports on protests in PoK, the Indian PMO said that they were an “eye-opener” about the situation in the region. Pakistan, however, has claimed that the video showing the protests was doctored.
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