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Updated February 6th, 2024 at 13:09 IST

Internal dissent overshadows Pakistan's Kashmir Solidarity Day observance amid flaring protests

Kashmir Solidarity Day in Pakistan and PoK underscored internal discord as government-funded events clash with widespread protests in regions like PoJK and GB.

Yuvraj Tyagi
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Islamabad: February 5, 2024, marked the observance of Kashmir Solidarity Day (KSD) in Pakistan and its puppet government of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Despite the elaborate programs and rallies organized under the guise of solidarity, dissent brewed beneath the surface, revealing internal discord within the regions. The so-called solidarity day, a fixture for the past three decades, witnessed the usual spectacle of government-funded events coercing participation from various sectors. 

Meanwhile, pro-accession political parties and politico-religious groups spearheaded the initiatives, with reports of banned terrorist outfits orchestrating activities, including a rally in Rawalakot by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants, brandishing weapons and calling for jihad. 

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Internal unrest overshadows supposed solidarity 

Contrary to its intended purpose, the solidarity day spotlighted simmering dissent within Pakistan-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). These regions, traditionally meant to be the epicenter of solidarity campaigns, saw widespread protests in recent months, culminating in a planned region-wide shutdown coinciding with the government's facade of Kashmir Solidarity Day.

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The discord underscores a shift in sentiment within regions long held by Pakistan, where resentment towards Islamabad's policies is palpable. Lacking political representation and autonomy, locals decry decisions made without their consultation, leading to systematic discrimination and economic marginalization. 

A farce of solidarity amidst political and economic grievances 

Pakistan's annual observance of Kashmir Solidarity Day has historically served as a tool for power consolidation and deflecting attention from internal failures. While Pakistan claims to support Kashmiri self-determination, its actions in POJK and GB tell a different story, characterized by political disenfranchisement and economic exploitation.

The government's narrative of solidarity stands in stark contrast to the reality faced by residents, who grapple with draconian tax regimes and land grab policies under the guise of development projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Senator Farhatullah Babar's lamentations highlight the denial of land rights to GB residents, perpetuating a cycle of disenfranchisement and resource exploitation. 

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The discontent brewing in POJK and Gilgit Baltistan reflects a deeper dissatisfaction with Islamabad's imperialistic policies. Residents, burdened by economic hardships and political marginalization, demand meaningful representation and autonomy over their affairs. The facade of solidarity on Kashmir Solidarity Day only serves to highlight the growing dissent within Pakistan's own territories, underscoring the need for genuine dialogue and inclusive governance. 

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Published February 6th, 2024 at 13:02 IST

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