Political activists from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) have expressed concerns over growing extremism and terrorist activities in the region during an event on the sidelines of the 39th Session of the UN Human Rights Session in Geneva.
Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled chairman of United Kashmir People's National Party, said, "PoK has remained a hub of terrorism for decades. Pakistan's agencies have created terrorists' infrastructure in the area to carry out terrorist activities in other parts of the Kashmir. It has become a launching pad. We have complete information that Pakistan has not changed its policies, it is merely statements by them to mislead the international community, but terrorist camps are running under the patronage of state of Pakistan."
Another human rights activist from PoK, Dr Shabir Choudhry, said, "They have got a license to intimidate and frighten people. If need to be, they kill them."
"Now, with the new government in Pakistan, the situation is going to be bad to worse because of Imran Khan. Although he went to Oxford, going to Oxford doesn't make any difference. He is called as `Taliban Khan' because a man who can give Rs. 30 crore from the official budget of the KPK (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) to madrasas, which is known as Taliban university, you can see how much he has given unofficially. And how much support he is giving it to these fundamentalist groups, whose duty is to kill or convert people," he added.
Several political activists have highlighted the issues concerning the people of PoK, who have been facing persecution by Islamabad.
The construction of Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project on River Neelum has created environmental issues and severe water crisis in the capital Muzaffarabad.
Reacting to the same, Kashmiri said, "When the tunnels were opened to divert the flow of Neelum River, we raised the issue at the United Nations citing that it will impact the life of people in Muzaffarabad. But, Pakistanis have called it propaganda by India, but now the people of Muzaffarabad have realised the truth as their life is getting destroyed day by day".
In recent days, protests are ongoing in Muzaffarabad and other parts of PoK to condemn Pakistan's exploitation of water resources in the region.
Kashmiri added, "Not only in Muzaffarabad, but protests are also happening in Rawalakot, Tararkhel, Kotli and other areas, which has taken a shape of a movement 'Save Neelum River, Save Muzaffarabad'. I believe India should interfere on this issue because it had an agreement to save the lives of Kashmiri people. India should pressurise the international community to protect the rights of oppressed and vulnerable people".
On the other hand, Choudhary further said, "This dam is going to benefit Pakistan but the irony of that is every household of PoK have to pay Rs. 20 a month for the construction of that dam and we are not going to benefit. Only, what we are going to get is a problem like environmental and drinking water. Unfortunately, we highlighted issues related to this dam when it was on paper.
People of Muzaffarabad did not understand because of fear or some other reason by calling as anti-Pakistan. Now, they have realized what we said and they are crying. Their future generations will also cry out as well because water is a fundamental human right. Because of diversion, some 30 km area will not be able to have clean water and it's going to create huge problems".