Youth in PoK forced to join terror groups, activists tell UN forum

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Political activists from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir raised the issue of terrorism in the region and informed the United Nations that youth in PoK are forced to join banned extremist groups who take up arms training to carry out terror attacks.

In his intervention during the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Nasir Aziz Khan, central spokesperson of the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP) said, “Despite Pakistan’s claims of controlling extremist groups, ongoing atrocities persist, such as the recent abduction of more than 20 teenage boys in Bagh, Azad Kashmir. These boys have been forcibly taken by internationally banned extremist groups for armed training and so-called Jihad”.

“This incident reveals the deep-rooted problem of extremist influence in the region, leaving families and loved ones in anguish due to the unknown whereabouts of their children,” said Nasir.

The political activist said, “Radical jirgas and extremist groups operate with impunity. The deep state acts like a state above the state, making arbitrary decisions and denying justice. Extremist groups disrupt daily life, targeting weddings, funerals, and burials, particularly affecting women’s mobility and freedom. Violence against religious minorities and Kashmiris is on the rise”.

He informed that several Kashmiris have been killed in different cities of Pakistan and not a single murderer is arrested or punished.

Nasir also said that incidents like the torching of churches, ransacking of Christian homes, and vandalism of a graveyard in Jaranwala, Faisalabad, on August 16, 2023, allegedly due to blasphemy, are deeply concerning.

“Pro-independence Kashmiris and rights activists are facing severe threats, harassment, and violence. Pakistan’s military and law enforcement’s land grabbing activities are harming the environment, endangering local biodiversity, and undermining climate resilience”, he said.

Another political activist from PoK, Professor Sajjad Raja said currently the people of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan are protesting by shutting down cities and continuous sit-in protests have been taking place for over 180 days.

“People are demanding that Pakistan provide them with wheat flour to live on but Pakistan pays no attention to our demands”, he said.

Prof Sajjad, who is the Chairman of National Equality Party JKGBL, told the UN that Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir produces electricity at the cost of 2.03 PKR per unit, but this electricity is sold back to us for 50 to 80 PKR per unit.

“Our need is only 400 MW in POJK and despite producing over 2000 MW of electricity we are subjected to load shedding for over 16 hours a day”, he said.

“We also lack any economic and physical infrastructure and employment opportunities. Under these conditions, our people are unable to survive and are fleeing out of POJK. We request the international community to expel Pakistan from our state as required by the UN Resolutions so that we can live peacefully on our own land”, Raja told the UN.

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