Friday, 1 August 2014

Protection of Pakistan Act will target Kashmiri nationalists in AJK and GB, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Protection of Pakistan Act will target Kashmiri nationalists in AJK and GB
Dr Shabir Choudhry       1 August 2014

True Kashmiri nationalists in Gilgit Baltistan and so called Azad Kashmir are likely to face tough time, as authorities in Islamabad have decided to crush growing movement against Islamabad’s illegal and unconstitutional rule. For this purpose they have enacted a new law called Protection of Pakistan Act. Also under shadow of war against Taliban they can target Kashmiri nationalists.

When on 9 July 2014 it was reported by some Pakistani media that ‘Pakistan army starts operation against TTP in Diamar Valley’, some thinking people got alarmed, as their apprehension was that nationalists speaking against the Islamabad’s occupation could be the real target. The news report said:

‘Pakistan Army military helicopters are busy in finding and killing terrorists as far as the lush green beautiful valley of Gilgit and Baltistan. Now operation against terrorists has been expanded to mountains of Diamer Valley. This is same place where Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) killed 12 foreign tourists last year. This Valley has been a perfect summer hideout of North Waziristani terrorists for the last 5 years but no action had ever been done against them...Sources said that the operation was launched on a request by the GB government, adding that two days back, terrorists attacked a police station in Dodoshal area, freed some “notorious” criminals and fled after snatching the policemen’s weapons’.1

With time apprehensions of thinking people proved correct as more and more political activists are intimidated and harassed by the authorities. In this regard a prominent political activist belonging to United Kashmir Peoples National Party has been arrested and charged him with very serious charges.
Muhammad Shareef Kakurd, son of Haji Muhammad of Abbas Town Skardu, who is Central Vice Chairman of UKPNP was arrested and charged with the following sections: 353,506,341,186,175,121 and 124A. Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman of UKPNP strongly condemned this arrest and demanded immediate release of Muhammad Shareef 
Kakurd; and added that our struggle is peaceful, and there is no justification of charging his colleague with sedition and other irrelevant sections.

Pakistan Penal Code, Chapter 1 states that, ‘This Act shall be called the Pakistan Penal Code, and shall take effect throughout Pakistan’. Since Gilgit Baltistan is not legally and constitutionally part of Pakistan, how could Pakistan charge a citizen of Gilgit Baltistan under these sections?

What further annoy human rights activists and political leaders is the cruel fact that the authorities have invoked sections 124A and 121 Penal Code of Pakistan, which are Offences against the State. Section 124A deals with sedition which states:

‘Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Federal or Provincial Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added...’ 2

Section 121 of Pakistan Penal Code deals with serious matters like, ‘Waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan’. It further says that: ‘Whoever wages war against Pakistan, or attempts to wage such war, or abets the waging of such war, shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine’. 3

Manzoor Parwana Chairman Gilgit Baltistan United Movement, in reaction to Pakistan Protective Act asserted that: ‘Whatever the apprehensions and fears, the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014 will be extended to Gilgit-Baltistan on a priority basis because this draconian law has been legislated to suppress the rights of the marginalized people such as the citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan and Sindh....Gilgit-Baltistan was a disputed territory on the agenda of the UN and does not come under the constitution of Pakistan, all draconian law such as the treason act and the anti-terrorism act of 1997 were implemented in the region to suppress the people and keep them subdued and deprived of all basic rights. He said hundreds of people in Gilgit-Baltistan have been facing trial in the terrorism court under terror and treason charges and man are still languishing in jails. He said Gilgit-Baltistan is a colony of Pakistan and the colonial powers can implement any draconian law in the land without any fear or regard to the human rights issues or constitutional implications....He said it was strange that despite having no representation in the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan, any law passed by the Pakistani parliament was forced on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that human rights situation in the region was already poor and Pakistan never bothered to improve the situation.’ 4

Although nationalists of Gilgit Baltistan and so called Azad Kashmir strongly feel that they are occupied by Pakistan, and their fundamental rights are usurped by Islamabad; but at no time they resorted to militancy against Islamabad, as they feel their struggle is peaceful and political in nature. All political parties denounce gun culture and use of violence, extremism and hatred to promote their struggle for unification and independence of the divided State of Jammu and Kashmir.

In view of this what is the logic of charging Muhammad Shareef Kakurd with sections which are used for traitors. He has not committed any treason. His struggle is peaceful in nature. Even though the Taliban have killed thousands of army personnel, yet up till very recently the authorities and some political and religious parties of Pakistan have been very kind to different Taliban groups.

It looks that Islamabad has decided to crush all those leaders and their supporters who are peacefully campaigning against illegal occupation of Pakistan; and perhaps Arif Shahid was the first victim of this policy. Now that the government is armed with new ‘draconian laws’, they can use this to intimidate, arrest, imprison and even silence all those who are not in their good books.

This is a very serious matter with serious implications. Perhaps the government has forgotten the fact the violence promotes violence and hatred promotes hatred. If this oppressive policy continues, then there will be serious consequences for the entire region. I request the government to drop all these fake charges against Muhammad Shareef Kakurd, and release him.

I request all human rights activists and members of NGO community to speak against this oppressive policy of Islamabad. Also I request all those who believe in human dignity and fundamental human rights for all; and those who have interest in peace and stability of the region to apply their influence that authorities stop their oppressive and imperial policies.

Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs
2.    Penal Code of Pakistan, Chapter VI, Offences against the State, Section 124A
3.    Penal Code of Pakistan, Chapter VI,  Offences against the State, Section 121

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