Remember, Home Minister Amit Shah thundered during the discussion in parliament justifying his aggressiveness and said, “When we say J&K, we include POK and Aksai Chin and we can go to the extent of sacrificing our lives to get back this region.”
So, as Indians, besides knowing the dangerous designs of Pakistan and its propagandists in J&K, we should be also evolving a national discourse on POJK.
Pakistan and It's Proxy
After the abrogation of Article 370, it is clear that Pakistan is desperately attempting to incite violence in Jammu and Kashmir with a sort of misinformation war. Unfortunately, as we noted earlier, the Indian National Congress is also aiding the malicious narrative of Pakistan on J&K. At a time when a whole lot of elements have been supporting Pakistan to weave its false narrative on J&K, it is time for us to discuss the atrocities and human right violations in parts of Jammu Kashmir that are illegally occupied by Pakistan. It is better to start with Gilgit and Baltistan that falls in Pak Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK).
Before that, it is better to have an idea of where does Pakistan stand in a propaganda war it has renewed recently. A couple of days ago, BBC had reported that the India security forces have fired on the protestors in the valley, a claim refuted by IGP of Kashmir. Former Pakistani ambassador to India Abdul Basit has revealed in a recent interview that he influenced Indian writer Shobha De to write about the human rights violation of India in J&K. Pakistani PM Imran Khan is trying to portray J&K turning into a state of Nazi Germany.
All these examples show that though Pakistan does not have facts on its side, it’s false propaganda machine is active internationally and within India as well. Nevertheless, in reality, Pakistan has been practicing all the allegations it maliciously throws at India such as ‘human rights violation’, ‘changing demography’ etc in POJK.
Human Rights violation in Gilgit- Baltistan
Senge Sering hails from Gilgit Baltistan region presently heads Institute of Gilgit-Baltistan Studies in Washington DC. The activist who maintains that Gilgit-Baltistan belongs to India and welcomed the recent move of India. He has on various occasions highlighted the atrocities of Pakistan in that region. Some of his claims are:
- Pakistan is changing the demography in Baltistan bringing its own citizens and settling them on the roads leading to Afghanistan, on the road to China.
- Pakistan would let China mine resources. Since the equipment and personnel invariably come from China the locals would get nothing. When they protest, they will be put behind bars with the ‘terrorist’ label.
- Gilgit-Baltistan is mostly Shias, while Pakistan is predominantly of Sunni Muslims. There is persecution on religious grounds.
- While Pakistan keeps the Wagah border open, but has kept the Skardu-Kargil road closed apparently to prevent people of Gilgit-Baltistan from interacting with the other side of the border.
It is not just one activist talking about these things. Many reports have documented how Pakistan is exploiting Gilgit-Baltistan at the cost of freedom and livelihood of the local population.
India’s Rights on Gilgit-Baltistan
Since the instrument of accession was for whole J&K and Gilgit-Baltistan was part of J&K province, no one can dispute that it belongs to India. Nevertheless, as we enter into a national discourse on getting back POJK, it is important to know some facts.
Since the region had a border with the then Soviet Russia, the British took Gilgit Agency on a 60-year-lease from the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir in 1935. With Maharaja signing instrument of accession with India, this region was to give back to him by the British. But, in the background of Pakistani aggression on the state, two British officers were deputed to defend Gilgit-Baltistan. A British officer Major Brown revolted and captured Maharaja’s governor Brigadier Ghansara Singh and invited his fellow British officer who was in-charge on the Pakistani side to accede the region. That is how Gilgit-Baltistan fell and since occupied by Pakistan illegally.
There were many interpretations as to why Britain did this to serve its geo-political interests at that time. Anyhow, in 2017 UK Parliament passed a resolution saying that Pakistan is illegally occupying Gilgit-Pakistan and condemned its decision to annex the region as its fifth province.
As Indians know more about these facts the national opinion will be further strengthened and the proxy of Pakistan get side-lined like it happened while abrogating Article 370.