A prominent political and human rights activist from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), who is now based in Brussels, lambasted Pakistan for exploiting the region for over seven decades and leaving the indigenous people struggling for even basics. Jamil Maqsood, Secretary, Foreign Affairs at the United Kashmir People’s National party said that people in PoK are now aware of rapid progress and development taking place on the other side of the border.
“Social media is also a kind of media that exposes what a nation, government, or state does not want to be seen or exposed. So it is social media that is showing everything. For instance, the biggest bridge in the Jammu region was constructed and the people were watching the construction process when the two arches were joining so it was a good jubilation that was even higher than the Eiffel Tower from France.
And then the highways, the Banihal Tunnel, and then the access to Railway facilities”, he said by adding that all such things are educating people about how the people from the other side are developing, and progressing. Jamil added, “We have been compelled to collect donations and construct our own roads, which means we are left as unattended people as an orphan and there is nobody who can look after us, and left marginalized and deprived of all boxes of life”. The political activist said the people in PoK enjoy no constitutional rights. “If we talk about the Constitution, we do not have constitutional rights, we cannot take part in elections although we can vote”, he told ANI in an exclusive interview. Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, which remain under Pakistan’s forceful occupation since 1947, are witnessing massive protests due to high inflation, irregular supply of essential items and Inflated electricity bills. Jamil said the people are now fed up and angry as Pakistan has exploited them especially in the case of electricity because every month they earn billions of rupees.
He said, “Now, people are asking the electricity produced in their area because Pakistan constructed nine hydropower project dams (in PoK).” “First and foremost was the Mangla Dam which was constructed in the late 60s. During that period of time, it was believed that the then government of POK and Pakistan agreed to provide free electricity to these areas because their land, property, graveyard and whole habitat were destroyed and went under the Mangla Dam.
So at least they should have been compensated for that, but they were not compensated which is the other case. But the free electricity or the electricity which they needed was not provided to them at the local scale”, he said. Jamil said that Pakistan is buying electricity from PoK under the price of Rs 2.50 per Unit, and returning the same electricity at the price of sixty rupees (per unit), which is too much. He said, “People are searching everywhere for the price of a megawatt in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and nearby countries.
It is unprecedented that the unit price in India is six rupees. The Pakistani price is down so you can make it ten rupees or make it twenty, but not sixty-five.” Jamil said that the people of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan have been persecuted by Pakistan for the past many decades. “This is not the episode of one day, one year, or ten years, this is the historical process ever since the area came under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. But now in the age of communication and social media, people have access to all those historical documents, and they know the facts of how Pakistan manipulated their territorial, tribal, and religious sentiments.” He added, “And how Pakistan also exploited their wishes to be united with the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir whose large chunk is under the administration of Pakistan.
So when they levied very large-scale taxes on electricity bills, they ended subsidies on local essentials like flour, sugar, and many other things. That was the last stage and it is also our constraint that we have been asking our people that if they will not stand against Pakistan, it will not guarantee you anything so this is the last show.” Jamil said, “I think the struggle, the protest, and the demonstration will enter into the next phase very soon when their demands will be withdrawn for Pakistani former officials and military from the hospital and also from educational institutions which they are running under the name of Army Public school and exploiting huge resources of our people.”