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'Pakistan Muzzling Dissenters': Activist Highlights Human Rights Violations In PoK At UN

A Kashmiri political activist called on the United Nations to take serious note of human rights violations in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, during the 46th UNHRC

A Kashmiri political activist on Monday called on the United Nations to take serious note of human rights violations in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan, during his address at the ongoing 46th Session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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Nasir Aziz Khan, central spokesperson of the United Kashmir People's National Party, highlights strict restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and association, press, media, and publications. imposed by the Pakistan administration. He asked the UN to intervene and ensure the release of British Kashmiri journalist Tanveer Ahmed, activist Humayun Pasha, and others.

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"Our organization is deeply concerned about systematic human rights violations in so-called Azad Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan which are incompatible with Pakistan's international human rights obligations. These areas are part of the erstwhile disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir held by Islamabad since 1947 and treated as its colony", Nasir told UNHRC.

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He added, "There are strict restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of opinion & association, press, media, and publications. Witchhunt of political opponents, Kashmiri nationalists, and rights activists is continuing."

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Nasir said that for those who oppose the state policy, Islamabad uses religion as a weapon and terrorism as a foreign policy tool against them. "Social and mainstream media is being used to defame activists, labeling them as anti-state, anti-religion, and foreign agents. Media trail, threats, fabricated charges, and politically motivated torture is systematically used to critical of the government to silent and changes their views," said the activist who hails from PoK.

"Though in our areas never held free and fair elections, recently Pakistan imposed new restrictions on nationalist parties. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK ) Elections Act 2020 make 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 or the sovereignty and Integrity of Pakistan or Security of Azad Jammu and Kashmir or Pakistan or morality, or the maintenance of public order," said Nasir Aziz Khan. 

"We urge upon the UNHRC to take serious note of violations and ask Pakistan to release all political and rights activists including British Kashmiri journalist Tanveer Ahmed, Humayun Pasha and others who are peacefully struggling for their fundamental and basic human as enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDHR", Nasir said in his intervention. 

(With inputs from ANI)