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In the ongoing series of protests in the region of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), the most latest edition of Safar-e-Azadi protests aimed to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the people in PoK. While participating in the protest, Toqueer Gilani, PoK leader, voiced concerns during the protest, shedding light on various issues faced by the region’s residents. He underscored a systematic pattern of suppression by the Pakistani administration, attempting to oppress the people of PoK.

While addressing the protestors, Gilani said, “The suppressors always have tried to erase our identity, so that we lose our uniqueness and they paint us in their image. Previously the local people used to rule these lands, now you will observe that all the ruling people belong to those oppressors.

In PoK you will not find any political party belonging to the people, you will find political parties like the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), and Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf (PTI) all of which are ruled and governed from Pakistan.” He further said that they will keep fighting for their identity and see this struggle through. “Our war for identity is not unconstitutional, against religion, or non-democratic. Pakistan will take care of us, this is the biggest lie that Pakistan has been telling us for over 40 years,” he added.

Referring to a journalist’s statement Gilani further said that the political leaders of the country keep harassing the people of PoK who speak for their rights. “Any army of political leaders has ever stood up for the people of PoK. Moreover, they have always used us against India. They keep harassing the people of PoK who speak for their rights, this always has been the attitude of Pakistan,” he said.

Gilani added, “The area in which we are holding this protest is itself a forcefully occupied territory of Pakistan.” He further complained that they are not free under the Pakistani Government as their mentalities are suppressed. “Pakistan has enslaved us from top to bottom, we are not free here. We are not ready in front of higher authorities; we are not free under the Pakistani Government as our mentalities are suppressed. We will pass our will to our children, as this government has left us begging for help and stranded.

As this country has given us nothing except poverty, helplessness, unemployment, and struggle. Today is the time that the government has run away from all its responsibilities,” he said. While addressing the issue of inflation and underdevelopment, Gilani said that the facilities they pay for, are not there. “All the facilities that we pay taxes for are not here. The tax money is to build roads, for education, medical treatment, provide job opportunities, safety, and security, but none of these works are being performed by the government,’ he added.