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PoK on edge: Situation tense as strike over economic distress enters 4th day

Residents of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) launched a series of protests against the Pakistan government last week, amplifying their voices to highlight the dire economic conditions and the pervasive lack of development in the region. The civil unrest erupted when Pakistan police attempted to suppress protests organized by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), advocating for equitable electricity pricing, subsidized wheat flour, and an end to elite privileges.

Tensions escalated as clashes broke out between residents and police forces during a rally towards Muzaffarabad via Kotli and Poonch districts. The clashes resulted in the tragic death of one police officer and injuries to over 100 individuals, predominantly policemen.

The protests signify longstanding grievances deeply entrenched in the fabric of PoK society. For decades, residents have endured economic hardship and governmental neglect, feeling marginalized and voiceless in decision-making processes. They lament being utilized by Pakistan to further its political agenda against India without reaping tangible benefits themselves.

Beyond economic hardships, the protests also condemn the heavy-handedness of Pakistan’s security apparatus and the rampant human rights abuses perpetrated by the Pakistan Army in the region. Anti-Pakistan sentiments have surged among disillusioned citizens, with some in Rawalakot openly advocating for integration with India as a means to escape their current predicament.

Government officials acknowledge these protests as recurring events but note the amplification of grievances through social media platforms. The widespread dissemination of protest footage and testimonies has exposed the ground realities of PoK to a wider audience, drawing attention to the simmering discontent and desire for change among its residents.

The protests serve as a stark juxtaposition to the progress witnessed in Indian-administered Kashmir, where development initiatives and infrastructure projects aim to improve the lives of residents. This stark contrast underscores the exploitation of PoK as a geopolitical pawn by Pakistan, utilizing the region as a base for terrorist activities while neglecting the welfare of its inhabitants.

As the protests persist, they underscore the aspirations and grievances of PoK residents, who seek a better future and an end to their exploitation by Pakistan. The demand for self-determination and reunification with India resonates deeply within the hearts of PoK residents, symbolizing their yearning for freedom, prosperity, and justice.

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