“To deny their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”
The human rights violations are at a greater calibre and immensely spread throughout the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir . People in the Azad Kashmir aka Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are under the control of the Pakistan government but do not enjoy all the rights and protections available under its Constitution. The voice of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is always unheard in the Pakistan’s Parliament as there are no delegates representing the state in the country’s Parliament. Though they have a government of their own, they are being completely controlled by the Pakistan Govt since its genesis. The powers of the local representatives and officials is mostly null and void.
Human rights are the basic rights available for all human beings, from the time they are born till they die. These rights are not granted by any state but universally accepted. These rights are fundamental and are enjoyed irrespective of the nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. It starts from the basic – the right to life – to those that make life worth living, such as the rights to food, education, work, health, and liberty. Human rights ensure everyone to meet their basic needs i.e., access to medicine, food and water, clothes, and shelter. It protects vulnerable people from being downtrodden by the powerholders.
It encourages freedom of speech, expression without any fear, practice any religion of choice, provides equal job opportunities, ensures the resources from being exploited. Human rights are the universal standard of living. Human rights violations are highly intolerable as there is no freedom of expression. Large number of youths were killed in the name of security. The impact of counter-terrorism is exposed on the standard of human rights, land rights, restrictions on the freedom of religion or belief.
The enormous support of Pakistan Govt on the armed groups were responsible for human rights abuses including kidnappings, killings of civilians, sexual violence, recruitment of children for armed combat, and attacks on people affiliated or associated with political organizations. HR violations especially against women and girls – including rape, honour killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage remain as serious problems in Pakistan.
No free and fair elections were held in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region and recently Pakistan imposed new restrictions on nationalist parties. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections Act 2020 made it mandatory for all political parties to declare loyalty to Pakistan. Article 126 of the Act provides, (1) No political party shall be formed with the object of propagating any opinion or acting in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of State’s Accession to Pakistan, leading to no practice of politics for the upliftment of the people. The people in these regions should be given the “right to speak and live” and the local government must be granted with self-reliant powers. The indulgence of Pakistan Govt in local affairs has to be refrained and focus on the HR violations in the region.