ANI | Geneva : Strongly objecting to the Chinese presence in Gilgit Baltistan, prominent Kashmiri writer and international human rights activist Junaid Qureshi has demanded the release of Baba Jan.
Speaking at an event on ‘China in Gilgit Baltistan; Its Implications’, organized during the 32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, Qureshi said Pakistan keeps unleashing terror in the region.
“China’s presence in Gilgit Baltistan stirred up more than China and Pakistan would want the world to believe. Human rights violations are the order of the day in the region while the State of Pakistan keeps operating and unleashing terror with total impunity. The Anti -Terrorism Act is being used to silence voices of justified dissent,” he said.
Qureshi strongly condemned the arrest, inhuman torture and 40 years imprisonment of Baba Jan and his associates on fabricated charges of terrorism.
“Baba Jan is being prosecuted as he organized protests against the selling-off of all the natural resources of the region to Chinese companies and challenged the forcible occupation of 2,800 square miles of the region’s land mass by the Chinese, as well as the annexation of Kohistan and Chitral into the Republic of Pakistan,” he added.
Qureshi stated the conviction of Baba Jan and his associates is illegitimate as they have been falsely implicated and Islamabad has no jurisdiction in Gilgit Baltistan according to Pakistan’s own Constitution and the Supreme Court.
Describing Baba Jan’s prosecution as ‘State terrorism and a grave violation of Human Rights’, Qureshi said the Anti-Terrorism Act is being used to silence the voices of justified dissent in Gilgit Baltistan in order to pacify concerns raised by Beijing.
He appealed to the UN to take note of the injustice mounted upon Baba Jan and demanded that he should be immediately released along with his associates.
Qureshi, the leader of Jammu Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party, is the organizer of the Europe-wide Signature Campaign against the further division of Jammu and Kashmir and attempts of unlawfully annexing Gilgit Baltistan.
He highlighted the 46 billion dollar costing China Pakistan Economic Corridor is an extension of Beijing’s ambitions of reconstructing the ancient Silk Road.
Qureshi stressed that Pakistan’s move to illegally annex Gilgit Baltistan, change the fundamentals of the actual Kashmir-issue and cement China’s stake in the dispute in response to concerns raised by Beijing.
“China finds it internationally indefensible to invest billions of dollars on a road that passes through a disputed territory claimed both by India and Pakistan. The actions of Pakistan totally negate the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their future, while jeopardizing any kind of solution to this long standing conflict,” he said.
Elaborating the abundance of resources in Gilgit Baltistan and the negative environmental and ecological impacts of China’s presence and proposed plans, he said Gilgit Baltistan is already facing serious environmental problems in relation to climate change because of air and water pollution, inadequate waste disposal, natural resources depletion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and glacier melting.
Qureshi stressed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a deliberate attempt by Islamabad to change the constituents of the actual Kashmir issue.
“I firmly believe that after Pakistan’s many attempts throughout history to change the demographics of Gilgit Baltistan and its role in marginalizing the voice of the Kashmiri people on international platforms like the UN, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a deliberate attempt to change the constituents of the actual Kashmir issue,” he said.
He, however, pointed out that if Islamabad imposes writ over Gilgit-Baltistan than India will have a political and moral right to fully integrate Jammu and Kashmir.
“If Pakistan imposes its sovereign writ over Gilgit-Baltistan, India will then have a political and moral right to fully integrate Jammu and Kashmir into India and scrap Article 370 of its constitution, which gives Jammu and Kashmir a special status,” he added.
Qureshi reiterated that Gilgit Baltistan is an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir, the future status of which still needs to be decided according to the wishes of the people living in Jammu, Ladakh, the Kashmir Valley, Pakistan Administered Kashmir and indeed Gilgit Baltistan.
“The construction of this corridor, complimented by the military benefits for both China and Pakistan and an investment of 46 billion dollars has all the ingredients to exacerbate the complexities of the Kashmir issue, threaten peace and secure China’s strategic interests by allowing it, to increase its illegitimate share in Jammu and Kashmir, ” he added.
He asserted that the people in Gilgit Baltistan are not in need of economic corridors of exploitation, but they long for basic human rights and their political liberties since the last 70 years.
He concluded by saying that the Europe-wide Signature Campaign will be held in front of the UN on June 18 and 19 respectively and subsequently in Geneva in protest against the nefarious designs of China and Pakistan.