Geneva [Switzerland], Sept. 20 (ANI
): United Kashmir People National Party chairman Shaukat Kashmiri
has said that electoral laws in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) undermine the political rights of Kashmiris, as only those who support the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan are allowed to contest.
"The electoral laws undermine the basic political rights of Kashmiris by barring them from seeking office if they oppose Kashmir's accession to Pakistan," Shaukat said at a seminar focusing on the theme 'Violence in South Asia'.
He said, "Pakistan enforced in 1974 for aspiring candidates ...to ensure that only those who support Kashmir and its accession to Pakistan can contest elections, and even who want to take part in public life in Pakistani administered Kashmir, have to sign a pledge of loyalty to Pakistan."
He added that those who publicly support or peacefully work for independent Kashmir face persecution.
"Those who favor independence invite the ire of Pakistani intelligence agencies and the military and risk being beaten and jailed," said Shaukat.
He said that many political leaders of Kashmir have either been killed or have languished in jail for the same.
"In May 2013, Sardar Arif Shahid, the most prominent Kashmiri politician, was assassinated for opposing the dictation of Pakistan," he said.
He alleged that Pakistan has deliberately kept the area underdeveloped and exploited its resources for the development of other parts of the country.
He called upon the international community to focus its attention to the human rights violations in PoK and Gilgit - Baltistan.
"There is need to hold Pakistan accountable for not only denying the Kashmiris their political rights but also carrying out widespread the human rights abuses against them," he said.
He added that religious minorities and ethnic groups like Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus and Shias are facing the worst form of persecution by intelligence agencies and extremist groups, which are funded and supported by the military itself. (ANI