Human rights abuses in Azad Kashmir

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Human rights abuses in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, have been a recurrent issue, ranging from forced disappearances,[1][2] torture[3] to political repression and electoral fraud[4] and suppression of freedom of speech.[5] According to the human rights commission of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) carries out extensive surveillance operations on the press and pro independence groups, they have carried out arbitrary arrests in which people have been tortured and several have died.[4] Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) is cited to indicate that dozens have disappeared after their arrests in Pakistan-held Kashmir. Those missing include Pakistani army personnel, those involved in spying for Pakistan, or those suspected of spying for India. According to the report "persons are arrested and disappeared if they refuse to join or try to leave the forces engaged in the “Jihad” inside Indian-held Kashmir or don’t provide information to the intelligence agencies about the movements of people across the border control line. A significant number of cases point to the Inter-Services Intelligence’s involvement in these disappearances".[1]

Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch has said in 2006 "Although ‘azad’ means ‘free,’ the residents of Azad Kashmir are anything but free. The Pakistani authorities govern Azad Kashmir with strict controls on basic freedoms".[6] Adams cited a law where those who opposed Pakistan's position on Kashmir were not allowed to contest regional elections, as an example of "political repression".[7] The report also detailed it could not find evidence that Pakistan's security agencies were held accountable for incidents involving torture or mistreatment.[7]

Adams added that the problems were not "rampant" but they needed to be addressed, and that the severity of human rights issues in Indian-administered Kashmir were "much, much, much greater".[7] Pakistan's Information Minister Tariq Azim Khan rejected the contents of the report and said that Azad Kashmir was free of human rights violations.[7]

In 2011 Afzaal Suleria stated that the ISI kidnapped and killed a doctor which led to demonstrations against the ISI.[8] While speaking to Dr Shabir Choudhry, Afzaal Suleria, President of the United Kashmir People's National Party- Azad Kashmir Chapter said:

“Another innocent Azad Kashmiri has become a victim of the ISI. We people are constantly harassed and victimised because we oppose the Pakistani occupation of our motherland.”[9]

Other Kashmir National Party leaders, Abbas Butt, Dr Shabir Choudhry, Asim Mirza, Nawaz Majid, and others have strongly denounced this brutal killing and demanded those responsible must be held accountable for their actions.[9]

Politics

According to Human Rights Watch,

the Pakistani government represses democratic freedoms, muzzles the press and practices routine torture.[10]

Tight controls on freedom of expression have been a hallmark of government policy in Azad Kashmir. Pakistan has prevented the creation of independent media in the territory through bureaucratic restrictions and coercion. Under Azad Kashmir’s constitution, which Pakistan enforced in 1974, election candidates are “prescreened” to ensure that only those who support Kashmir’s union with Pakistan can contest elections. Anyone who wants to take part in public life in Azad Kashmir has to sign a pledge of loyalty to Pakistan, while anyone who publicly supports or peacefully works for an independent Kashmir faces persecution.[10]

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch:

“The electoral law undermines Kashmiris’ basic political rights by barring them from seeking office if they oppose Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan, [..] Those who favor independence invite the ire of Pakistan’s abusive intelligence agencies and military, and they risk being beaten and jailed.”[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Asian Legal Resource Centre (27 August 2010). "Pakistan: Thousands Of Persons Remain Missing". Scoop. 
  2. ^ "The quest for missing persons continue". Dawn. February 14, 2012. reported cases of missing persons during 2011 included 43 from Punjab, 25 from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, eight from Sindh, two from Azad Kashmir and 17 from Balochistan. 
  3. ^ Watch, Human Rights (2006). "With Friends Like These..." Human Rights Violations in Azad Kashmir. Human Rights Watch. p. 54. 
  4. ^ a b Piano, Aili (2009). Freedom in the World 2009: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 860. ISBN 978-1-4422-0122-4. 
  5. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report 2007. Seven Stories Press. 2007. p. 306. ISBN 978-1-58322-740-4. 
  6. ^ Adams, Brad. "Pakistan: 'Free Kashmir' Far From Free". Human Rights Watch. 
  7. ^ a b c d "HRW alleges abuses in AJK Tariq Azim rejects report". The News. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  8. ^ Choudhry, Shabir. "PAKISTAN: Another Azad Kashmiri becomes the victim of ISI butchery". Asian Human Rights Commission. 
  9. ^ a b Choudhry, Shabir. "PAKISTAN: Another Azad Kashmiri becomes the victim of ISI butchery". Asian Human Rights Commission. 
  10. ^ a b "Pakistan: 'Free Kashmir' Far From Free". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Pakistan: Abuses Feared in Kashmir Elections". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
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