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Pak PM Shehbaz approves PKR 23 bn immediate provision for PoJK amid clashes, protests

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Islamabad | May 14, 2024 11:00:27 AM IST
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has authorised the immediate allocation of PKR 23 billion to Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) following recent clashes and protests in the region, Dawn reported.

The decision comes in response to escalating tensions, with the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) leading demonstrations demanding various reforms, including fair electricity pricing, subsidised wheat flour, and an end to elite privileges.

On May 9 and 10, police arrested approximately 70 activists to prevent a scheduled long march by the JAAC, triggering violent clashes in Dadyal and prompting a widespread "shutter-down strike".

Subsequent days witnessed further unrest, with fierce confrontations between protesters and law enforcement in Muzaffarabad, resulting in casualties and injuries. Despite initial calm, tensions flared again as protests resumed, leading to clashes and renewed calls for action, as reported by Dawn.

Efforts to negotiate a resolution between the JAAC and PoJK authorities faltered, exacerbating the situation. President Asif Ali Zardari and PM Shehbaz pledged to address protesters'' grievances, urging dialogue and restraint.

In response to the turmoil, government offices and educational institutions remained closed as a precautionary measure.

Prime Minister Sharif convened a special meeting in Islamabad, attended by PoJK PM Chaudhry Anwarul Haq, local ministers, and key political figures. Federal ministers and coalition leaders also participated, conducting a comprehensive assessment of the situation.

The decision to allocate funds was met with appreciation from PoJK leaders, acknowledging the Prime Minister''s swift response.

Speaking at a press conference, PoJK PM Chaudhry Anwarul Haq hailed the aid package as a "gift" from the government, attributing the unrest to alleged interference attempts by India.

He added that 100 policemen were injured and a sub-inspector was martyred during the protests, underscoring the gravity of the situation.

Acknowledging the government''s support, he disclosed the allocation of PKR 10 billion from the Social Protection Fund to the PoJK Bank, addressing critical financial needs.

Key provisions of the aid package include subsidised electricity tariffs and fixed prices for wheat flour, aimed at easing financial burdens on residents. Haq assured that notifications had been issued to implement these measures promptly.

Emphasising the significance of the aid, he assured that the relief would be a permanent fixture in the region''s budget, providing long-term benefits to the populace.

Haq highlighted the collaborative effort among coalition parties, emphasising a shared commitment to regional development and prosperity.

In response to queries, he confirmed financial assistance for the family of the slain sub-inspector and unveiled tariff structures approved by PoJK authorities for domestic and commercial users, Dawn reported. (ANI)

 
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