When hopes fade away


When the areas forming the present-day Azad Jammu Kashmir were liberated, Kashmiris living on both sides of the divide as well as in other parts of the world had expressed the hope that it would be an independent entity in the real sense and become a base camp for the people of the state in achieving their goal of self-determination. Alas the hopes and aspirations of the people were quickly shattered as this piece of land soon became a hotbed of Pakistani politicians’ shenanigans. What to talk of becoming a real base camp for the freedom fighters, every government formed in the state caused irreparable lose to the freedom struggle of the Kashmiris. Besides, successive governments in Islamabad used the state as a tool for achieving their international political objectives. Besides the issue of Kashmir, the people had also pinned hopes on the state that it would safeguard their economic, social, cultural rights and raise voice against violations of human rights. But it also failed in this front. If there was any hope left, it was shattered after a Kashmiri girl thought to be dead and buried under the rubble during the 2005 earthquake suddenly reached home after escaping from a brothel in Punjab and narrated her tale of agony at the sin houses for over two and half years. She also revealed that four more girls – two each from Bagh and Rawlakot – were still in a brothel in Punjab. The news fell as a bombshell on those whose daughters and other female relatives missing since the disaster are still unaccounted for. The calamity-hit people now undergo psychological embarrassment suspecting that their dear ones might also have fallen into the hands of the unscrupulous elements. A wave of hatred and anger has gripped the whole region against the state and Pakistani governments for their failure to bust the gangs of human smugglers and recover the girls still under their clutches. Instead of taking action to trace the missing girls and give the people a healing touch, the prime minister of Azad Kashmir as usual tried to play to the international gallery and sent a delegation of some women headed by his own son to a human rights conference in Geneva at a cost of over Rs1.8 million of taxpayers’ money. The delegation failed to mislead the international community on the performance of the state government back home and instead brought embarrassment to the government of Pakistan. After the miserably poor performance of the government on all fronts, is there any iota of hope that those at the helms of affairs in Muzaffarabad would care for the collective good of the Kashmiris in future and safeguard their interests. Enough is enough; and the people should stop blindingly trusting the so-called custodians of their rights and devise a joint strategy to achieve their objectives.

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