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Arnab Dasgupta asked: Why Pakistan does not face the same situation in the POK as India does in J&K? Is it only religion that protects it or something else?

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  • Priyanka Singh replies: First of all, it is incorrect to assume there are no problems for Pakistan in the PoK (AJK and Gilgit Baltistan). There is simmering unrest in the PoK and a great deal of discontent amongst the people against Pakistan. There are nationalist groups who are demanding independence from Pakistan’s control over the region. Due to Pakistan’s deliberate strategy of not allowing these groups to flourish and denying them the right of expression, the leaders of such groups are forced to flee their homeland and operate from outside PoK, majority of them being based in Europe and US. The region has been kept under closed wraps largely beyond the reach of media attention. After the earthquake of 2005 when international relief poured in PoK, the ground realities including the existence of militant training camps were taken note of by the outside world.

    However, the nature of problems which India faces in J&K is quite different from that of PoK. The biggest of all is the cross border militancy in J&K unleashed by Pakistan for more than two decades. Pakistan’s role in promoting terrorism against India lies at the core of the problems which the GOI faces in J&K. Popular sentiments resulting from governance issues have at times been tapped and manipulated by Pakistan to sponsor terrorism in J&K.

    Ethnicity and culture rather than religion bears upon the state of affairs in PoK. The demographic composition of the region has been tampered by Pakistan to reduce the majority of shias into a minority. Sectarian clashes between the people have led to violent incidents thus serving Pakistan’s purpose behind divisive politics. This has led to further disaffection in PoK gravely hurting the sensitivities of people on culture and origin.

    India provides fair democratic processes in J&K which allow dissidence, debate and discourse. In the absence of basic rights and liberties, the possibility of street protests and demonstrations in PoK are far fetched. The political processes in PoK are farce- designed merely to strengthen Pakistan’s unlawful control on the region.