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Inflation and Unrest: The deepening crisis in Pakistan-Occupied Jammu & Kashmir as locals seek ‘Azaadi’ from tyrannical Pakistan government

Electricity generated in the PoJK area is also being diverted to other bigger cities in Pakistan which has further angered the locals.

On Saturday, 11th May, videos surfaced on social media from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) where protesting civilians were seen pelting stones at the security personnel. Reportedly, the residents of PoJK are protesting over inflation and anti-PoJK policies of the Pakistani government. The rising prices of electricity prices and withdrawal of subsidies over wheat have forced the residents of the region to come out on the streets in protest. Severe taxes and lack of basic amenities have led to widespread protests in the occupied territory where the locals turned violent. The recent events have exposed the harsh realities of the Pakistani administration in the territory occupied from India.

Economic strain and policy failures

Pakistan is under a lot of economic pressure in recent times. Nearly empty treasury, political instability, and ever-rising foreign loans have put the hostile neighbour’s government under scrutiny. Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Pakistan to bring “strong cost-side reforms” to restore the viability of the country’s energy sector. IMF urged Pakistan to end power subsidies given to the energy sector in the upcoming financial year 2024-25 budget. However, the pressure on the public is already visible with the rising power prices. For instance, the current price per unit under 100 units is Rs 22 per unit and it rises to Rs 65 per unit if someone uses over 700 units per billing cycle.

The hike in various tariff brackets has fueled discontent among the masses. Furthermore, The central government’s removal of subsidies on wheat and the rampant corruption in the bureaucracy has only added to the hardships faced by the people. Reportedly, electricity generated in the PoJK area is also being diverted to other bigger cities in Pakistan which has further angered the locals.

Suppression of dissent

Responding the to atrocities of the Pakistani government, the locals came out on the streets. However, the Pakistani government decided to curb the protests using force rather than dialogue. Several units of Pakistani rangers and local police were deployed to disperse the protests and stop them at the budding stage. Contrary to what the ruthless rulers anticipated, the protests turned violent and videos showed how security agencies were pushed back. Rangers were seen using AK-47s on the civilians leading to the death of at least two protesters which exposed the human rights violations in the region.

As per reports, Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee announced a march to protest against the govenrment’s policies. However, over 70 activists linked to the committee were arrested by the security agencies. Pakistani rangers did not spare the children as well. Some of the tear gas shells reportedly fell inside a school leading to injuries to the female students studying there.

The fight for identity and rights

Several leaders in the PoJK have become the voice of the distressed public. Shaukat Nawaz Mir has emerged from the turmoil advocating for the rights and identity of the people of PoJK. In a statement, he said, “Put any tag on us, but as long as God is with us, you cannot harm us. Let us live in peace. If you raid people’s houses again and arrest them, there will be no peace. I am saying this openly. I appeal to everyone to save your region, save your identity. If your identity remains intact, everything will be possible; otherwise, nothing could be achieved. I have faith in all of you that you will fight this long battle and achieve success. The battle has to be fought with peace and by saving ourselves. It will be difficult to fight if you don’t stay grounded.”

Comparison with Kashmir on India’s side

Contrasting the situation in PoJK with that of the Jammu and Kashmir on India’s side reveals a stark difference. Since Article 370 was revoked in August 2019, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir has grown exponentially. With systematic public and private investment, implementation of national schemes and strategic policies for the region, Jammu and Kashmir has seen progress like never before. Lower inflation rates, consistent subsidies, and better infrastructure show how India is ensuring the stability and growth of the region. The impact of India’s efforts will be seen in regional politics as well in the coming years highlighting the importance of strategic governance models that curb terror activities and promote the development of the region leading to peace and prosperity.

The ongoing crisis in PoJK is a testament to the failures of the Pakistani government to address the aspirations and needs of the people of the region. There is a stark difference between how the Indian government and the Pakistani government deal with the dissent in the region. It shows how strategic policies are important for peace and stability which is not possible for the Pakistani government to provide anytime soon because of its economic and political instability.

The international community must recognise and address the plight of the people of PoJK and ensure that their voices are lost in the shadows of the impotence of the Pakistani government.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Searched termsAmit Shah PoK
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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