In the Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and Gilgit Baltistan, the population of minority Shia population is declining rapidly, clearly highlighting Pakistan’s attempts to change the demographics through the targeted genocides of minorities, and settling down of Punjabi elites and Army men in the region.
Pakistan has already been successful to cleanse the Sikh population from PoJK and now, Chinese workers and army men are settling down in these areas in the guise of working for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
A report titled “Human Lives Matter: A Comparative Study and Analysis of Human Development and Human Rights in J&K and PoJK/G-B” by Law and Society Alliance, shows the status of human development and human rights conditions in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
A comparison of annual budget allocations, as well as those allocated in the areas of health and education in J&K and PoJK, reflects that India has been allocating an amount that is a multiple of PoJK budget by many times.
With one of the lowest Infant Mortality Rates, high employment opportunities, and numerous higher educational institutes, J&K places itself amongst the top performers in the list of Indian states in a couple of indicators. The findings also show that with a low HDI value and literacy rate, along with a meagre number of education institutes and medical centres, GB tends to be one of the most underdeveloped territories of the world.
A striking finding of the report is that the population of Muslims in J&K over the past five decades–between the census of 1961 and 2011- was identical, highlighting that no demographic change has taken place till date in Jammu and Kashmir.
On the other hand, none of the languages spoken by the PoJK and GB population has been officially recognised by Pakistan and imposition of Urdu – spoken by a meagre population, mostly by Punjabi elites, reflects that Pakistan has been unable to come out of the orientalist mindset and is seemingly working on pre-independence Muslim League agenda.
Pakistan and the government seem to institutionally impose it across the nation under China’s pressure. Contrarily, India has recognised three predominant Kashmiri languages – Kashmiri, Dogri, and Urdu under its Constitution.
Several Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs) and two reports of OHCHR in 2018 and 2019 have underlined that religious and non-religious minorities in PoJK/GB have been barred from constitutional rights and are being persecuted by state and non-state actors.
Through the Anti-Terrorism Act, involuntary disappearances, blasphemy laws, and other national security provisions, the Pakistani army and the ISI are curbing dissent in PoJK and GB. Similarly, journalism and free speech are now non-existent in PoJK and GB.
Besides practising direct censorship, Pakistan is also implementing indirect ways to censor news content.
On the other side of the Line of Control (LoC), the report has found that the Indian government has invested millions of rupees for the protection of separatist leaders of J&K. Moreover, vernacular Kashmiri media appears to be thriving.
The constitutional setups in PoJK and GB have been fragile and volatile. First of all, PoJK and GB don’t find any mention in the Pakistan Constitution. PoJK has an ‘Interim Constitution’ which keeps changing based on the convenience of Pakistan and GB does not have a Constitution at all.
The condition is more concerning in GB as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has vested all the powers of GB Council in himself, controlling decision making in the region from Islamabad. Currently, under the pressure from the Supreme Court, the government is vacillating on its decision on how to bring the GB Reforms Act 2019 and in which form.
On the Indian side, the abrogation of 370 has extended numerous labour, minority, LGBT rights to the people of J&K. Even before the abrogation move, J&K had several human rights and labour laws. However, the J&K Assembly elections of 1987 were a black mark for Indian democracy and infringed the democratic rights of citizens of J&K and opened the gates for terrorism.
Post the abrogation, there has been a significant increase in the budget of J&K and the amount allocated by the Central Government for the region. Several investors have made promising announcements. It has also helped to institutionalise the processes which could be seen in and rising prices of agricultural products, limited role of middlemen, and reduced corruption.