Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has rejected the demand of the civil society of Pakistan occupied and Kashmir (PoK) to register their data as citizens of PoK. The census being conducted right now is adding the data of PoK citizens as Pakistanis. This is not only a serious breach of the United Resolutions that have classified PoK as the disputed territory between India and Pakistan, but by denying the people of PoK to be identified according to their ethnicity and linguistic identity, Pakistan is blatantly committing a crime against the people of PoK.
The ongoing 52nd session of the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva must take note of this humanitarian injustice that is aimed at erasing our identity as a nation. Let me remind you that this is not the first attempt by Pakistan to undermine our freedom and subjugate our people. On the night of October 22, 1947, the Pakistan army attacked the sovereign state of Jammu and Kashmir.
During the first Kashmir war, more than 100,000 civilians of Jammu and Kashmir was killed by the Pakistan army, many of whom were of Hindu and Sikh faith. Pakistan’s occupation of PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan has resulted in the total destruction of our culture, political liberties, economic independence, and social fabric. For 75 years Pakistan has followed a well-formulated plan to systematically alter our identity as a nation. First and foremost, Pakistan altered our geographical unity by facilitating the forceful divide of our independent state of Jammu and Kashmir. Secondly, Pakistan imposed Islamic statutes in an attempt to convert our people into Hindu/ India-hating religious fanatics set up jihadi terrorist camps across PoK where jihadis from Punjab and Khyber Paktoonkhawa were brought for training in the art of terrorism.
In short, Pakistan orchestrated the death of our indigenous culture by suffocating it with issuing dozes of Islamic dictates, thereby establishing the religious hegemony of Islam at the cost of the destruction of indigenous cultures. Thirdly, Pakistan crippled our political liberties by conditioning any political activity with loyalty to the state of Pakistan.
The fact of the matter is that the United Nations has given us the right to choose between Pakistan and India, however, we are not allowed to campaign for reuniting with India as per the instrument of accession signed between the last king of Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh and the last viceroy of British India Lord Mountbatten. If a resident of PoK dares to speak about a reunion with mother India he/she is persecuted, executed, like the late Arif Shahid advocate who was gunned down by Pakistan’s secret services outside his house in Rawalpindi on May 13, 2013, or the way Ghulam Abbas was shot in the face at the doorstep of his house in June 2021 in Kotli PoK. Fourthly, Pakistan has ruthlessly conducted the plunder our natural resources. Our minerals scattered all over PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan are being dug out day and night without the consent of the local population.
Our rivers have been diverted in order to construct hydropower projects that supplies electricity to Pakistan. While the whole of the occupied region suffers from up to 20 hours of load shedding a day. Our development funds have been stopped and the governments of both PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan have no cash to pay wages or pensions. And finally, the coherent social fabric of our societies and the right to individual freedom of choice has been ripped apart by the introduction of medieval traditions such as mandatory wearing the hijab in schools, colleges, and universities.
An Islamic authority by the name of Rehmat fulfill Alameen has been set up in PoK to further the religious tyranny of Islam at the cost of our indigenous cultural practices. Islamic religious ideology is made sacred by banning any form or shape in which Islamic laws imposed upon us might be challenged. Cult worship around the personality of the last prophet of Islam, Muhammed, has been enforced by the state that condemns anyone who thinks otherwise with blasphemy and condemned to death.
The question is what is the UNHRC going to do about this? Is the UNHRC going to organise a fact-finding mission and send it to PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan to obtain first-hand information about our plight and present it to the general council or is the 52nd UNHRC session being held in Geneva yet another eye wash. For now, all sections of PoK society have rejected the census that is being conducted by 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.