Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri speaking at the event

Nottingham: The United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP) highlighted the poor state of affairs in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK's) Gilgit-Baltistan region during a seminar in Nottingham city of United Kingdom.

The event titled “Bridging Boundaries: The Role of Kashmiri Diaspora in Shaping the Homeland's Future" was organised by Asif Abbas general secretary of UKPNP Europe Zone on August 1.

Various keynote speakers shed light on the forced division of Jammu and Kashmir, extremism, inflation, and the plundering of natural resources in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan. They also highlighted the lack of basic facilities and infrastructure, which has led to youth and natives fleeing from their motherland.

The speakers also discussed the denial of basic facilities and human rights, economic hardships, political suppression, forced migration of nationalist and rights activists, and Islamabad's suppressing voices of the Kashmiris.

“Pakistan has failed to provide basic facilities and infrastructure to people in the region. It is responsible for the energy crisis, shortage of flour and essential foods, growing extremism and radicalism, brainwashing of youth for jihadi activities and injustices in PoK,” said UKPNP Chairman Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri.

Speakers also expressed their concerns regarding the plundering of natural resources, land grabbing, allocation of forestry land, and tourist resorts to the military.

These issues have impacted the lives and development of the local population.

Additionally, the seminar focused on the critical role of the Kashmiri diaspora in shaping the future of their homeland. It involves preserving Kashmiri culture and heritage, creating global awareness about the region's situation, making economic contributions, fostering peace and reconciliation, empowering women and youth, promoting cultural exchanges, engaging in environmental conservation, and advocating for human rights and democracy in the region.

By working together, the diaspora can contribute to a brighter and more prosperous future for Kashmir.

A press statement issued by UKPNP said Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Sardar Nasir Aziz Khan, Mahmood Kashmiri, Faria Attique, Naveed Khan Yasir Arafat, Aftab Khan, Farooq Nazir, and others further highlighted that Nationalist Kashmiris are barred from participating in elections unless they pledge allegiance to Pakistan, effectively suppressing their right to freely express their political views and aspirations.

They said that Kashmiri nationalists have faced witch hunts, forcing them to flee their motherland to escape persecution. This has led to a loss of critical voices advocating for justice and human rights in the region.

The government in Islamabad maintains control over these areas through the AJK Act of 1974 and the Election Act of 2020, further limiting the autonomy and self-governance of the people.

Speakers further highlighted the energy crisis in the region and said that despite generating thousands of megawatts of electricity in PoK, the regions face severe load shedding, affecting their daily lives and development.

However, instead of paying royalties to PoK for the electricity generated in their regions, Islamabad imposes hefty prices on electricity bills, depriving the local population of their rightful benefits.

“PoK is blessed with breathtaking natural beauty, but it also faces environmental challenges. The diaspora can support and participate in conservation efforts, promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness about the region's ecological significance”, said the press statement.

Speakers urged that the Kashmiri diaspora holds immense potential in shaping the future of their homeland. By preserving their culture, engaging in global advocacy, contributing to the economy, and promoting peace, they can bridge boundaries and pave the way for a prosperous and harmonious Kashmir.

"Let us stand together, united in our efforts, to create a brighter future for this beautiful region we all hold dear," they added.