Washington D.C. [USA]: Even as Pakistan continues to make attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue despite rebuffs, it has put curbs on residents of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir who want an end to its control over the territory.
Pakistan's message to the residents in PoK has been very clear: No talk of independence will be allowed, The New York Times reported on Thursday. A few NYT journalists who were granted rare access to the region in recent days found a toughening Pakistani security response to a growing pro-independence movement there. Residents were quoted as saying that Pakistan's domination over the occupied territories has increased over the years especially after the scope of dialogue between the two countries came down.
Quoting the locals of the area, the NYT reported that the Pakistani crackdown also has another focus. As outrage over India's move to end Kashmir's previously accorded (temporary) constitutional status has galvanised militants, Pakistani officials fear they could face international sanctions if they don't rein in the armed groups. Pro-independence demonstrations across the occupied-territories are attracting thousands, residents say.
The protests were barely covered in Pakistani media, and mobile phone and internet were cut off for a while in the area. One military general dismissed the demonstrators as "Indian agents." Meanwhile, President of PoK, Masood Khan, has defended the actions of the Pakistani military establishment by saying that the police force used against protesters this month was a "preventive measure". According to reports, the residents have called upon the international community to address the grave human rights violations in the region by Pakistan.