The illegally occupied regions by Pakistan and China are not because of wishes of the people there but part of the larger conspiracy. As we have constitutionally addressed the issues pertaining to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, now is the time to raise awareness about the occupied territories
Months after Independence in 1947, tribesmen from NWFP (North West Frontier Province) aided and abetted by Pak infiltrated into J&K in October. The ‘Kabailis’ /Tribesmen raided western J&K; ransacked, looted and murdered men and women in their path. Maharaja pleaded for materials as well as help from India as British and Pakistan troops had blocked all supply lines.
After accession on October 26, 1947, the Indian Army was sent to J&K immediately on October 27. The infiltrators were checked and some areas were freed. However, India declared ceasefire on January 1, 1949 and some areas occupied by Pakistan erre still not recovered, these are the areas called Pakistan Occupied J&K and China Occupied J&K.
After the Partition which led to much bloodshed, about 5,764 families, mostly Hindus & Sikhs, entered Jammu from West Pakistan (West Punjab) during and after partition in 1947; They were allowed to stay and were given 'refugee' status.
Most of these refugees belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs). They do have the benefits of SC/ST as per Indian Constitution. Their present population is about 2,50,000; and are settled in the areas adjoining India and Pakistan Border right from Jorian to Kathua in Jammu.They live mostly in rural areas and under poor sanitary / health conditions and in economic deprivation.
Despite their pathetic state, neither the UN nor any international Human Rights organisations have cared for their cause for over 72 years.
1994 Parliament Resolution
In view of the increased terrorist violence and Pakistan’s attempts to highlight the Kashmir dispute, both houses of the Indian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on February 22, 1994, emphasizing that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the State under its occupation. The highlights of the resolution follows:
l “The State of J&K has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means;
l India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity; and demands that:
l Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression; and resolves that all attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely.”
POJK govt works like a war council under ‘Rules of Business (ROB) with almost no say in its own affairs. People of POJK have no say in any administrative or legislative changes. POJK council has nominal powers and functions under direct control of Pak govt. Mirpuris were forced to flee their homeland when hundreds of villages were inundated following the construction of the Mangla Dam.
Gilgit-Baltistan came under direct rule of Pakistan after Karachi Agreement and was termed 'Northern Areas'. Northern Areas were ruled by Pak directly till 1993 with a joint secretary level officer as in-charge. Pakistan’s SC in 1994 upheld the Muzaffarabad High Court decision that Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) are NOT a part of Pakistan, but a part of State of J&K.
Importance of River Indus for Pakistan
There is no other river flowing through whole of Pakistan other than those from India. Though India has the Indus water treaty with Pakistan, it can control the quantity and as an extreme step can resort to stop the flow of water. Pakistan understands this and wants to hold on to the occupied areas for its source of water too.
However, the Pakistan Army has never let any civilian government build a proper dam in Pakistan that can store water. If a dam is constructed, it doesn’t require to fight with India. This would leave its military jobless. If India regulates the water that flows into Pakistan, experts opine that it could result in civil strife in several regions, especially Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab as the Army would further regulate water to these provinces in order to control and harass them.
Rights Violations and Neglect in POJK,
Gilgit & Baltistan
Statistics available suggest that there are only 12 high schools and 2 regional colleges for a population of 8,70,347 in Gilgit-Baltistan. There are no professional colleges in Gilgit-Baltistan. Locals get 25% less than non-native workers in the government sector. There are no local dailies or radio or television stations; there is just 1 doctor for 6000 people. Almost all of 15000 mega watts generated in Gilgit is used by other areas of Pak and even China leaving Gilgit in the dark.
Gilgit & Baltistan have no freedom of expression, no press freedom either; Arbitrary arrests and detentions are common. The 2005 earthquake left thousands dead and lakhs homeless in the region. Pakistan government provided no respite to those afflicted by the earthquake.
Militant groups threaten locals who do not co-operate or support their terror activities. Along with increasing terror activities in J&K, Zia-ul-haq started his pet project to change demographics of the region. Since then, Pakistan is bent upon changing the demographics of Gilgit Baltistan by “flooding” in people from other areas of Pakistan.
Local Gilgit people are agitating to undo the designs of Pakistan to overshadow the local Shia majority with Sunni/Pathan through unfair demographic flooding. The ‘Gilgit-Baltistan united action forum’ for self-frule has been demanding right to self-rule as well as some status atleast comparable to that of Mirpur/Muzaffarbad. They have demanded to remove the Chinese troops on their soil, which is estimated anywhere inbetween 7000-11000. Instead of heeding to their demands, Pak troops and militants have only increased their atrocitie on them. More than 900 have been killed, 1000s disabled and more than 40 are allegedly missing as a result of recent uprising in the region.
PoJK has a lot of strategic significance for India. It is the gateway to Central Asia through the Wakhan Corridor and at the same time it has rich water resources. Thus, there is greater need for India to take a more proactive approach on PoJK, not only because it is a part of its territory but because of the high strategic stakes. China is today connected to Pakistan by the Karakoram Highway which runs through the illegally occupied areas. Karakoram Highway has been used for illegal transfer of nuclear material from China to Pakistan. Several Hydel projects and infrastructure projects are being planned by China in Gilgit and Baltistan. Gilgit is rich in several minerals like uranium, rich copper and gems like topaz, quartz, albite, etc which is why China is keen to hold on to the region.