Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Protests continue in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir due to stalled talks

As marches resumed in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif promised to address the ‘genuine demands’ of the protesters. However, despite efforts, an agreement could not be reached between the Jammu and Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee and the PoJK government, with the protest movement going ahead with its march on Muzaffarabad, Dawn reported.

Following the death of a policeman in the clashes, relative peace prevailed in the area, although business centers remained closed and public transport was suspended in Muzaffarabad and Poonch divisions. A partial strike was observed in Mirpur, indicating the depth of emotions motivating the protests.

The deadlock continued even after talks between the JAAC core committee and PoJK Chief Secretary Dawood Barach in Rawalakot ended without progress. According to Dawn report, a protestor in Rawalkote accused the government of adopting evasive tactics, which further escalated the tension.

Those who participated in the discussion included people from different areas including Muzaffarabad, Rawalkot, Kotli and Bagh. However, hopes of success were dashed as one participant, Sardar Omar Nazir Kashmiri, lamented the lack of concrete results, accusing the government of deception and delay.

In response to the ongoing protests, government offices and educational institutions declared closure the following day. The protesters, encouraged by the firm stand of their leaders, vowed not to be swayed by empty promises and demanded concrete action on their grievances.

Despite initial optimism among JAAC delegates, hopes for a solution were dashed, leading to calls for protests to continue. Meanwhile, essential businesses in the capital briefly reopened, but streets remained deserted, reflecting the tense atmosphere in the region.

Similar scenes were witnessed in Rawalakot, where there was little vehicular activity except those carrying workers from neighboring districts. According to Dawn, the scheduled rallies of Mirpur and Poonch divisions indicated a unified front in the protest movement, with locals showing solidarity by welcoming the procession.

Rumors of Ranger interference added fuel to the fire, raising the possibility of the fire increasing further. While the initial withdrawal of the paramilitary forces brought relief to some, reports of their withdrawal increased uncertainty and anxiety among the population.

In view of the rising tensions, both President Zardari and Prime Minister Shahbaz urged restraint and dialogue to resolve the crisis. President Zardari stressed the importance of responsible action by all stakeholders, warning against exploitation by external forces.

Prime Minister Shahbaz echoed these sentiments, expressing deep concern over the situation and calling for a peaceful solution through dialogue. He called a meeting to address the current crisis, stressing the need to maintain the rule of law and protect public property.

In a statement on social media, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to resolve the situation peacefully, despite attempts by opponents to politicize the issue. He remained optimistic about a quick resolution and urged all parties to engage in talks constructively, Dawn reported.

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