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No freedom of expression in PoK, terror hideouts intact, activists tells UN

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Geneva | March 22, 2023 8:35:17 PM IST
Political activists from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir lambasted Pakistan for curbing the freedom of expression and giving free hand to terror outfits in the region during an event at the 52nd Session of Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

The event titled "Freedom of Expression" was organised by the United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP) to focus on the importance of protecting the right to freedom of expression, especially in today's world where censorship and suppression of speech are becoming increasingly common.

Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman of UKPNP told ANI, "When any state curtails or compromises the freedom of expression has an aim that its wrongdoings didn't get exposed. It also aims that people do not resist. Since 1947, Pakistan has put restrictions on our freedom of expression and freedom of Association through different ordinances, acts and tactics. It is the reason when there is any rally or a seminar, there are attempts to curb it".

People in PoK gave many examples where the students and political activists from the region are not allowed to express their opinions and they are treated as enemies and threatened.

"In PoK, our 20 student leaders have been booked under the sedition act. They were organising State Day and they were arrested and tortured. Many of our leaders have already faced immense torture. Here, the courts are not independent and it is difficult to get a bail and these student leaders were tortured for 2-3 months".

He said that terror camps still impact the region and pose a threat to the local people. He said, "Pakistan is also using terrorists as its proxies, who are roaming freely with sophisticated weapons. They openly threaten people as if anyone talks about secularism, democracy and their rights, they will not be allowed to do so".

"Pakistan's Constitution defines PoK as its own territory but we are not part of it. Pakistan itself says that this is a disputed territory but through Act 1974 they don't allow us to participate in local elections, they are now allowing us to make any association. They have set up a proxy government (in PoK) which is working on the behest of the Pakistan government", Shaukat Kashmiri said.*

Jamil Maqsood, Central Secretary, Foreign Affairs Committee of UKPNP said, "Since Pakistan is facing economic meltdown, it has not abandoned policy to use religion and to use those proscribed organisations in PoK. And this is very alarming that at one end Pakistan was set out from FATF and on the other hand terrorist organisations like LeT, JeM, Harkat-ul- Ansar, Tehrrek-e-Mujahideen and many others with different names, with different flags, turbans and slogans are reorganising and they are threatening and attacking national political activists, leaders and human rights activists who are advocating the revival of rights in PoK".

He added, "We think that Pakistan will create more chaos, more disturbance and more killing in the coming time and the international community should take serious note on this issue and ask Pakistan to dismantle terrorist infrastructure in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan which is still intact". The event was attended by dissidents from Pakistan including Sindhis, Baloch and Pashtuns who exposed Pakistan for violating human rights in the country. (ANI)

 
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