On September 21, 2018, political activists from Pakistan occupied Kashmir(PoK) held a massive protest in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) office in Geneva against gross human rights violations and exploitation of water resources by Pakistan in the region.
They also demanded Islamabad to dismantle terror infrastructure in PoK, as jihadis are used against people in Kashmir valley. The protest was organised by the United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP) during the 39th session of the UNHRC.
The activists raised anti-Pakistan slogans and demanded Islamabad to allow the people of PoKand Gilgit Baltistan live freely and with dignity.
''The protesters held banners saying "Stop Human Rights Violations in PoK & Gilgit Baltistan" and "Save Neelum and Save Muzaffarabad".
UKPNP's former spokesperson Naseer Aziz refuted claims of Pakistani government of countering terrorism and fighting extremism.
Speaking to ANI, he said, "All terrorist organizations including Lashkar-e-Taiba are very much active, leaders roaming freely and recruiting young people for jihad. The state is promoting and projecting them which is ironical. Locals are the real victims here."
On the Jhelum-Neelum Hydro Power Project, Aziz asserted that the people of Muzzafarabad are the real victims. "Local people are the real victims and their lifeline has been cut. Legally Pakistan cannot build any mega project in the disputed territory including Pok and Gilgit-Baltistan," he added.
Another activist of UKPNP, Jamil Maqsood said that Pakistan military agency and secret agency have been kidnapping people for demanding their rights.
"When water was diverted of Neelum river, to meet the requirement for the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, people started to protest the death of the river. Pakistan secret agencies are kidnapping people who are on the forefront of the protests. We are protesting so that the water requirements of local people are met."
Talking about terrorism in the region, Aziz said, "They (Pakistan) launch fresh attacks whenever there is international pressure, so as to dodge the allegations and claiming to be the victim of terrorism."
The chairman of UKPNP Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri said that those who gathered outside UNHRC office were protesting against illegal activities in the regions of PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan. "They are suppressing people, building mega projects and taking lands from the people illegally," Kashmiri said.
Kashmiri further revealed that the city of Muzzafarabad is at risk of pollution and people are at risk of contracting diseases as a result of the pollution and scarcity of water. Kashmiri people cannot use their own water for irrigation or drinking. We are protesting the illegal occupation of Pakistan in front of UN. We want independence.
''We are asking Pakistants to withdraw their troops and dismantle the structure of terrorism and extremism. Local people and civil society are living in fear and facing harassment at the hands of authority," Kashmiri asserted.
He also talked about the growing Pakistan-China friendship and the exploitation faced by the locals as a result of it.
"China and Pakistan in the name of friendship are using our land for commercial purposes. It is all waging war against secular, independent Kashmir which I would call a proxy war. They divide us on communal lines. They are destroying our ethos, our history and they are actually promoting and projecting Pakistani agenda," he added.
They also accused Pakistan for sponsoring terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin and demanded dismantling of terror infrastructure.The activists say that millions of people in PoK are still voiceless, deprived and marginalised as they have no equal rights under Pakistani rule.
They raised demands for freedom from Pakistani occupation, and justice for those political activists and other intellectuals who are languishing in jails.The protest by PoK was also joined by Sindhi and Baloch political activists