PoK leaders stage massive protest, demand end to Pak rule

19 August 2017

The Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation held a massive protest rally in Jandali area of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir today, demanding freedom from Pakistan.

Demostrators in POK wave Indian flags, demanding freedom from Pakistan / Image: Daily Excelsior  

Local leader Liyaqat Khan said, "Pakistan sends terrorists here to ruin this peaceful place". In a video shared by ANI, the protestors are seen raising pro-freedom slogans and raising banners to demand freedom from Pakistan.

Some of the leaders of the group accused Pakistan's army and agencies of converting their ''motherland into terror sanctuaries'' and oppressing them, adding that they want their rights.

''When Pakistan builds Neelam-Jhelum and Mangla Dam then we are not 'disputed', but when we demand our rights, our identity, we become disputed territory," Liyaqat Khan said.

Khan went on to question why people from PoK are deprived of the freedom to take part in world events such as sports. ''When we see players performing in world sports, I wonder why our youth is not taking part, why our youth does not go beyond these forests,'' he said.

Calling the people of PoK ''slaves of Pakistan", he said, "I urge everyone and even to our [armed forces] veterans that we must break the clutches of slavery, our beautiful land is full of resources and talent, we must not fear and part with Pakistan."

He confirmed that there is ''widespread anger'' across PoK over Islamabad's continued support to militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

Khan went on to allege that Pakistan's military and Inter-Service Intelligence are working in tandem to turn PoK into its terror laboratory. ''No private sector exists here and government jobs are also negligible. There are no rights, no freedom of expression,'' he added.

Another Pakhtoon leader also blamed Pakistan for spreading the wave of militancy in Kashmir. Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai said Pakistan should take the first move to let Kashmir be free by withdrawing from the region.

"Why don't we adopt a new policy on Kashmir? Let Kashmir be free from both India and Pakistan. Why not we take the first step to solve it?" he asked.

He told the BBC that Pakistan, if it pulls out of the part of Kashmir it holds, would be able to tell the world that it was sincere in resolving the dispute with India.

He said Pakistan needed to make peace with its neighbours Afghanistan, Iran, and India.

Pakistan holds the northern third of Jammu and Kashmir, known as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in India and Azad Kashmir in Pakistan, while India controls the southern two-third. Both countries claim the whole of the state.

Last year, the Pakhtoon nationalist leader had stoked a controversy after he reportedly said the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province belongs to Afghanistan.

This is not the first time that demands of freedom from Pakistan have been raised from the troubled region. In the past as well, anti-Pakistan protests have taken place across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The Pakistani forces have been accused of committing human rights violations and inflicting atrocities on the people of PoK.

The most recent protest was on Saturday, when PoK leaders used an event in the UK to blast Pakistani rule. (See: PoK activists blast Islamabad rule, demand independence)

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