Kotli residents in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) recently took to streets to protest against the atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The agitation was launched against extra-judicial killings, fake encounters and brutalities committed on pro-Azadi leaders, who disagree with the Pakistan State. The angry mob raised slogans such as “Butcher of Kashmiris, Pakistan Army”, “Dogs are more loyal than ISI”.
The protesters demand an independent investigation into the murder of Arif Shahid, a major Kashmiri nationalist leader, chairman of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA), and president of the Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference (JKNLC).Shahid fought tooth and nail against Pakistan’s oppression in PoK before he was shot outside his residence in Rawalpindi on May 14, 2013. He was 62. Investigation into Shahid’s murder is still inconclusive, and there is no closure in the cold-blooded murder, so far. The ISI is blamed for conspiring and executing Shahid’s murder.
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According to an estimate by the All Party National Alliance based in Muzaffarabad, more than one hundred pro-freedom political activists have been killed by the ISI over the past two years. There is growing resentment among PoK residents over the killings as well as the continued army clampdown. Earlier, PoK witnessed a series of protests by residents against rigged polls that saw Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), coming to power.
The United States’ State Department has recently also expressed concern over human rights violation in PoK, maintaining that it has always been urging parties in Pakistan to settle their differences “peaceably and through a valid political process”.US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said he could not agree with the view that nobody knew about human rights violations in PoK before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted that in recent times.
“Sure, Well, I would respectfully beg to differ. We do have concerns about the human rights situation there, have reported it for several years in our Human Rights Report, and we’ve obviously – are always urging all parties in Pakistan to work out their differences peaceably and through a valid political process. And with respect to Kashmir, our policy there is well known,” he said.