Amjid Ayoub Mirza
In a recent meeting organized by the All Parties Alliance in Dadyal, Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK), it was declared that Dadyal would remain closed on February 5. This decision comes in solidarity with the general strike called by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee, which has been actively protesting the exorbitant increase in electricity tariffs in PoJK since August 16, 2023.
The core issue lies in the fact that Pakistan purchases electricity from PoJK at Rs 2.60 per unit but sells it back to PoJK at an astonishingly high rate of Rs 52.91 per unit. This financial exploitation has led to public outrage, prompting various Awami Action Committees to form the state-wide Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee and launch a civil disobedience campaign, urging citizens to boycott electricity bills.
The upcoming general strike on February 5 poses a significant challenge to Pakistan’s established narrative of Indian oppression in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. For 33 years, Pakistan has observed ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day,’ marked by forced participation in hate rallies against India.
However, the Joint Awami Action Committee’s decision to protest against Pakistan’s actions indicates a shift in the people’s perspective in PoJK, challenging the longstanding narrative.Notably, former PoJK prime ministers are attempting to persuade the Joint Awami Action Committee to change the strike date, while some political parties in PoJK, including the JK National Awami Party and the JK People’s National Party, have expressed support for the general strike. Student organizations across PoJK have also declared February 5 as a ‘Day of Protest for People’s Rights,’ signaling a collective refusal to align with Pakistan’s narrative.
As tensions escalate, it is anticipated that the PoJK government may resort to a crackdown before the strike begins, potentially resulting in arrests. Simultaneously, in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan (PoGB), a broader civil unrest is unfolding, with protestors in Skardu, Gilgit, and Yassin engaging in a sustained sit-in and protest rallies against the rising price of wheat.
The Awami Action Committee in PoGB has rejected government negotiation offers, insisting on a rollback of wheat prices to previous levels. The reduction of United Nations-approved wheat subsidies by 1.6 million bags annually has fueled discontent.
Furthermore, up to 20 hours of load shedding in major cities and towns in PoGB has severely impacted businesses, prompting traders to support the Awami Action Committee’s call for wheat price reduction and an end to load shedding.In an unprecedented display of defiance, both PoJK and PoGB are experiencing a groundswell of resistance.
It is imperative for the government of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the central BJP government to take proactive measures and express solidarity with the ongoing struggles in these occupied territories. Failure to do so would not only be a missed opportunity but also a setback in the quest to unite a fractured Bharat.(Note:- Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a broadcaster from Mirpur in PoJK.
He currently lives in the UK)