Even as Pakistan deals with its multi-fold crisis, it has a bigger problem on hand. The people in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), who have been protesting for nearly two weeks now, want the region’s merger with India. This is an unprecedented demand which has completely turned around the narrative that Kashmiris want to join Pakistan.

Viral videos show demonstrators demanding the reopening of the Kargil Road that connects the two countries.

With Pakistan battling many setbacks–wheat flour shortage across the nation, insurgency in Balochistan, border conflict with Afghanistan, attacks by the Pakistani Taliban, and a crippling financial crisis, people in PoK have experienced enough. They seek the stability of India.

Exiled PoK leader, Shaukat Ali Kashmiri too has been holding meetings in various countries since December to highlight the hardships confronting the people in PoK. He recently told news agency ANI in Geneva that Pakistan has since 1948 exploited natural resources but in return the people in PoK “received unemployment and exile. Most of the people faced very hardships as they have no medical facilities. Even the PM has described that we have no health facility…”.

Amidst hardships for its people across the length of the country, the residents in PoK have been holding daily protests against Pakistan’s discriminatory policies over ownership of land, making demographic changes, hiking taxes as well as about basic living conditions such as power-cuts, food shortage and electricity rates.

PoK was created after Pakistan invaded the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir immediately after India’s Partition. Under an onslaught from Pakistani forces and tribal raiders, Maharaja Hari Singh sought military help from India after which the Indian Army halted the Pakistani forces from seizing the entire princely state.

Now, more than seven decades later, while Pakistan has slid into a financial and a humanitarian crisis, India is galloping ahead in its economic and scientific parameters and improving its military prowess. The Indian side of J&K too has progressed considerably in its human index indicators while PoK has remained bereft of economic progress with low human development.