English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

HRCP exposes Pakistan’s use of brutal force in PoJK protests, calls for accountability

HRCP Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt (Image: CIVICUS)

The chief of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) exposed the governments in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad for their intention to suppress peaceful protests using brutal force in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir in May this year.

Three people died and 100 others were wounded during clashes between residents of PoJK and Pakistani security forces in Muzaffarabad.

The six-day-long protests, sit-ins, shutter-downs, demonstrations, and wheel-jam strikes began on May 8 against the Government of Pakistan and the PoJK government, demanding subsidised electricity and flour.

In an interview with CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organizations and activists, HRCP Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt said, “Shortly after the first verified reports of violence, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan launched a fact-finding mission. We found that the PoJK government had requested paramilitary and civilian forces from the Pakistani government ahead of the protests, indicating its intention to use force against protesters. Deployment of additional forces began on May 3, almost a week before the planned protests and long march.”

The involvement of the Pakistan Rangers, a federal paramilitary force, marked a significant escalation. Their entry into Muzaffarabad and alleged unauthorised use of force contributed to the violence.

“The entry of the Rangers, their lack of coordination with local authorities, and the perception that they were deployed to violently suppress protests fueled the violence. Clashes in Muzaffarabad resulted in three protesters dead and many others injured. The situation escalated when the Rangers resorted to teargas shelling and firing,” Butt stated.

Key incidents during the protests included a police raid on May 10 on the residence of Shaukat Nawaz Mir, an elected traders’ leader, which resulted in arrests and clashes. On May 8, an assistant commissioner reportedly assaulted an older person in Dodyal, Mirpur. A crackdown on the JAAC leadership in Kotli, Mirpur and Muzaffarabad further inflamed public anger, leading to retaliatory attacks on government officials and property.

He added, “The government must hold those responsible for excessive force against protesters accountable through an independent investigation to prevent future abuses. The use of paramilitary forces against PoJK citizens is also deeply concerning and should not recur.”

The HRCP chief emphasised that the local administration in PoJK should respect human rights, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and the right to life.

He also called for sustainable economic relief measures, such as subsidies and price controls, to address immediate public needs.

Asad Butt recommended that the natural resources of PoJK should be managed by local authorities, and Pakistan’s earnings from the use of PoJK’s water and electricity should be shared equitably.

He urged the international community to monitor potential human rights abuses in PoJK and press the Pakistani government to prevent their recurrence.