New Delhi : There is simmering discontent among Pakistani Kashmiris against Islamabad's misrule, activists from the region said Wednesday, urging India to shun its "defensive" Kashmir policy.
"Azad Kashmir (as Islamabad terms Pakistan-administered Kashmir) is free, of course. But free for Pakistanis only," Mumtaz Khan, a Canada-based Pakistani Kashmiri activist, said at a seminar here on the status of the area.
Khan, who heads the International Center For Peace and Democracy (ICFPD) a Canada-based NGO, alleged that no politician could talk independently about the Kashmir issue in Pakistan because it is directly under the military's control.
He said the people of the region, including Gilgit-Baltistan, had pinned their hopes on New Delhi but "India has been defensive in its Kashmir policy".
"This has allowed Pakistan to take an aggressive stance," he said, reminding the Indian government of a parliament resolution saying that Pakistan "must vacate the areas of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression".
"India has faulted. You have violated your own constitution that says Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir is a disputed territory. You have to demonstrate something practically," the activist said.
Senger Sering, another activist based in Washington and originally from Gilgit Baltistan, said people from his region wanted an independent republic and "that is why Pakistan is treats us worse than enemies".
"There is institutionalized slavery. Pakistan has been eating out our resources and this slavery has been legalized by an ordinance," Sering said, referring to the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009.
He alleged that "target killings" were rampant in the strategically located region rich with natural resources, particularly with a great potential for hydroelectricity.
The territory, where China has shown keen investment interest and is in fact developing many hydroelectricity projects and roads, is also a gateway to Central Asia.
But the area is ridden by violent incidents that Islamabad blames of sectarian groups, both Shias and Sunnis.
But Sering denied this, saying: "Target killings are done by mercenaries hired by (Pakistani spy agency) ISI."
"They (killers) are coming from outside," he said.
He alleged that the area is hugely militarized and the Pakistan Army controls everything.
"We have a bakery, the only bakery in the region. It is named Askari Bakery but is known as Military Bakery because it is run by the army," he said.
Asking India to engage with activists from Pakistani Kashmir, he added that India should allow a symbolic representation for the region in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
"Let some activists be allowed to represent the region in the Kashmir assembly and legislative council," he said, adding this was possible because constitutionally, they are citizens of India.
Something I have said for years. India has been defensive on Kashmir for no reason. I wonder if we have any leverage there to instigate an uprising to put paid on by NaPak ideas of NaPakis. We have to make a move on. Enough of status quo.
You should know if there has been any covert help to "our citizens" there.
I agree with the person when he says Kashmiris from Pak Occupied Kashmir should be given representation. We have set aside seven seats in our Parliament for PoK as proof of it's impending return to Indian administration. We should appoint prominent Kashmiris and Baltis with MP positions. It can be honorary without voting rights as they are not elected. But symbolic. It's time to fill those seven seats.
What amazes me that Indian policy planners are so defensive in thinking. Pakistan since its inception has a host of internal problems. Yet except Bangladesh we never took advantage of that, even though Pakistan used every opportunity to turn any single mistake of ours in one region an opening to play their games.Even today when Baluchistan is ripe for picking, US Congress is debating it, there is rare mention of it in government announcements, forget about debating it openly in Parliament.
You really believe that the patience is the way to go. Is it the same patience that has been practised for the last sixty four years and the result was four wars along with ongoing infiltration in to India and numerous terrorist attacks and sheltring the terrorists by puked Pakisi. For gods sake come to terms with the reality.
We have to start covert operation as suggested by Brigadier Ray. Days of tokenism are over. First and foremost we have to replace existing political party's at the center with new where no criminals are at all allowed to be member of any political party.
Sir Kashmir has to be solved using novel ideas and by that I certainly don't mean the Mushy MMS kind of. That was a sell out. We need it resolved in out favor from a position of strength.
I hope people like Galaxy who are in touch with BJP cadre can take this idea up and may be BJP makes it its manifesto. BJP has my vote if it can get Kashmir back, or at least puts forward and idea to get it back. I can't expect this from the congress.
Bajpayee may be a respected politician, but he was a gullible diplomat, he had almost sold out Kashmir for free to Musharraf, but some senior ministers in the NDA government didn't allow that to happen. Why do you think Musharraf was so angry and complaint about the sabotage? Because he had almost got the best deal for Pakistan at our expense.
Unfortunately past NDA government failed miserably in handling our foreign relations. Officials handling the Kargil Episode were a lot similar to those who handled Indo-China conflict during 1962, cowards.
The problem with laying claim on Pakistani Kashmir is that it is infested with pro-Pakistani Mirpuri Punjabis who label themselves "Kashmiri" and since they have been funneled into the Northern Areas, vastly changing the demographics, they suppress the poor people of the Northern Areas and become voice of all POK.
I know I got a lot of flak for this last time, but I will say it again, it is not in India's interests to consider the Mirpuri Punjabis as "Kashmiris", because frankly, they are not. It was but a British divide and rule tactic which landed that strip of Punjab in "Kashmir". Those chaps are no different than the Pakistani Punjabis and therefore they despise the idea of joining India.
Once we take it back by force only than we should draft the policy to expel these so called Kashmiri's out of the State and pay no attention to any organization who takes up their case on humanitarian ground.