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Kashmiri diaspora group sheds equidistance, ignores atrocities in Pak-occupied territory

By Our Representative 
Clear indications have emerged that the powerful Kashmiri diaspora organisation, Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, has shed its earlier approach of equidistance from both India and Pakistan while demanding what it calls the inalienable Kashmiri right of self-determination. The statement has been made in order to exhort the Kashmiri diaspora to stand united for demand the “inalienable” right.
While it is not known what has brought in such a change, a statement forwarded by its president Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, “Role and Responsibility of Global Kashmiri Diaspora”, even as calling Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) a “disputed territory” and calling upon both the countries to help resolve the “long stand conflict to the satisfaction of all parties concerned”, has sought to recall “atrocities” on the Indian side of Kashmir”, but is singularly quiet about human rights violations in the Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The diaspora statement comes despite the fact that a Washington DC-based thinktank, Freedom House, in a report released about a year ago had placed both the Indian part of Kashmir and PoK as equal – “not free”. In fact, in its ranking, the report gave J&K as well as PoK gave the same score, 28 on a scale of 100, and categorizing both as “Not Free”, even as rating 210 countries, including individual territories, while analysing two sub-categories, political rights and civil liberties.
The 79-year-old organization Washington DC organisation had found in its report that, while the PoK’s category as “Not Free” had not changed from what it was in 2019, remaining static at 28/100, as for J&K, its category has changed from “Partly Free” to “Not Free”, and the rating dropped by a whopping 21 points, from 49/100 to 28/100.
Interestingly, in September 2020, in an article, Dr Fai had sharply criticised Pak move to to elevate Gilgat-Baltistan (GB) to a full-fledged province with all constitutional rights, “disturbing the disputed nature of the state of the Jammu & Kashmir”, and calling it “akin to the unilateral action taken by Narendra Modi on August 5, 2019, when Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated.” He said, “Both these actions will be in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions # 91 of 1951 and 122 and 126 of 1957.”
A pro-independence protest in Pak-occupied Kashmir
Thus, the diaspora group, while recalling how “100,000 Kashmiris have lost their lives in the past 30 years. 8,000 to 10,000 people have disappeared” and talks of “2,700 mass graves” having been discovered in the town of Kupwara alone, he refuses to recall atrocities, if any, committed in PoK.
The United Nations in a 2019 report had said how Pak authorities had suppressed “rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, assembly and association” on every section of PoK’s population. In its report “Update of the Situation of Human Rights in Indian-Administered Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir from May 2018 to April 2019”, the UN said, this is being done directly under the nose of the Pakistani Prime Minister, who is “vested with wide-ranging powers, including the authority to appoint and dismiss judges of the superior courts and to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner” in PoK.
Interestingly, a report by the diaspora group on February 7, 2021 on a webinar “Violations of Human Rights in Kashmir and the Role of Media”, organized by the Human Rights Department of Punjab University, Lahore, had also talked about “abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A” leading to the alleged annexation of Kashmir into India. But it kept mum about human rights violations in PoK.
The diaspora group leader Dr Fai did not respond to a query by Counterview on why there was no mention of atrocities in PoK, even though the seminar was organised in Pakistan.

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