POJK: Muzaffarabad rights protest halts as Pak yields to demands

POJK protests
Kashmiris protesting in POJK (Photo: News Intervention)

The complete shutdown protest called by the Joint Awami Action Committee in Pakistani-Occupied Kashmir (POJK) has ended on the fifth day. The committee called off the strike after demanding the immediate release of all arrested individuals and the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the brutal killings during the protests and to punish those responsible.

During the end of the strike, solidarity was expressed with the families of the martyrs, and prayers were offered for the departed souls.

Five days of intense protests

For the past five days, businesses and transportation across POJK had come to a standstill in response to the strike against high electricity and flour prices. The situation turned tense when protest caravans from different areas converged on Muzaffarabad, leading to clashes between protesters and police as well as Rangers.

Following these events, the Pakistani establishment, convinced of its defeat, approved a relief package of 23 billion Pakistani rupees for POJK to address the issues, resulting in reduced electricity and wheat flour prices.

A high-level meeting chaired by Imperial Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was held at the Prime Minister’s House to address the situation in POJK. The meeting, attended by representatives of the occupying POJK government and its Ministry of Interior, along with other key officials, approved the 23 billion Pakistani rupee relief package.

Following the approval of their demands, the Joint Action Committee officially announced the end of the protest. Over the past five days, the strike for affordable electricity and flour led to intense clashes between protesters and police. The use of tear gas, batons, and live fire by the police resulted in at least five deaths and 90 severe injuries among the protesters.

Rights protests across POJK

The strike was initially announced by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Action Committee following the arrest of at least 70 individuals during raids last Thursday. As a result of the protests and strikes, all businesses, offices, and educational institutions across POJK were closed.

The latest development comes after almost an year of protests and civilians raising demands. At first, the protest were completely ignored and the tariffs on electricity were increased unprecedentedly. But after the Awami Action Committee announced mass movement towards Muzaffarabad and their demands escalated to ‘either rights or no rule’, Islamabad took cognisance of the matter, only to conduct a merciless suppression of the protest, killing five individuals. But due to unwavering courage and determination of the enslaved Kashmiris, Islamabad eventually succumbed to their demands.

Pakistan gas a record of making false promises

Nonetheless, approval of the package doesn’t means that the problems of Kashmiris have been solved as the control of the fund would be directly in the hand of occupying government, which is a puppet at the hands lf Pakistan Army.

Moreover, similar protests in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan which resulted into the occupying government’s assurance clearly show that these announcement are only made to diffuse the intensity and fervour of protests and they never fructify in favour of native population.

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