AJK Protests – A Reality Check

Social media platforms have created a false impression of the public’s support for the demons-trators.

AJK’s current situation has taken a violent turn in the wake of recent protests in the region. The tragic killing of Sub Inspector Adnan Farooq Qureshi by protestors, an esteemed and responsible official, in Mirpur has further intensified the situation. Investigating the underlying causes and intricacies of this scenario is crucial as the anger and frustration continue to grow. The puzzle of complexity unravels if one closely analyzes the landscape of grievances and unresolved concerns that have simmered beneath the surface for far too long.

The involvement of activists in violent protests during the present uprisings raises serious concerns because using such confrontational tactics is intrinsically harmful to resolving fundamental issues. Furthermore, the death toll during these protests not only transgresses moral and legal requirements but also raises questions about the intentions behind such acts. It makes one consider the serious consequences of eschewing morality and legal logic in favor of dissent. Indeed, the question arises as to whether the prevalence of such violent outbursts could have been mitigated had the perpetrators of the May 9th incident been swiftly and decisively brought to justice nationwide. The nexus between accountability, justice, and the prevention of further violence becomes glaringly apparent in the wake of such tumultuous events, necessitating a concentrated effort to promote accountability and obedience to the law.

After a close examination of the demonstrators’ expressed complaints, it is evident that the basis of their demands is not well-reasoned or practical. The proposal that calls for the price of electricity to match the cost of production ignores the complex network of expenses that are necessary to produce electricity. Apart from the obvious costs of raw materials and infrastructure upkeep, a wide range of operating expenditures, such as fuel, salaries of employees, and maintenance costs, all play a substantial role in determining the ultimate tariff. Therefore, it ignores the complexity of the system that produces power to assume that production costs and consumer bills will always be directly correlated. Similarly, the demand for subsidies—a measure already offered by the Pakistani government on necessities like wheat—reveals a basic misapprehension. The AJK administration’s taxation of these particular commodities exacerbates this misperception and creates a complex fiscal environment for commoners. In addition, the difficult terrain and scattered habitation that characterize AJK lead to increased transportation expenses, which in turn raises the cost of products and services. Because people are entangled in the intricate web of the socioeconomic environment, the widespread impact of the Government’s sincere efforts to control inflation and guarantee fair access to necessities has unfortunately not reached the general public.

Ironically, social media platforms have contributed to the transmission and amplification of violent protests, which has created a false impression of the public’s support for the demonstrators. The reality on the ground, however, tells a different story. In the past, AJK has been mostly dependent on Pakistan to supply essential goods; this dependence has been made worse by the recent unrest. The effects of these violent protests have affected the everyday life of the average person, leading to a generalized dissatisfaction among the public. A closer look at the core of the issue indicates that the residents of AJK are facing a startling debt of between Rs. 60,000 and 70,000 dues. Demonstrators’ demands include the cancellation of these outstanding debts, which is a step that will help ease the financial burden on the public. The people’s support or solidarity is primarily due to this factor of hope that their outstanding electricity dues will be exempted if these protestors succeed in their efforts.

It is noteworthy that, in contrast to the leading political personalities, the local leadership in AJK has taken on a more prominent and aggressive role amid the emerging instability. These high-profile individuals’ noticeable absence has plausible ramifications, as it is assumed that they are using their quiet to emphasize how indispensable they are to resolving the issue. Furthermore, there’s a strong feeling that their ultimate participation is aimed at their limited political interests expected to be met after they succeed in settling the issue. This calculated stance underscores the intricate interplay between political dynamics and personal agendas, casting a shadow of skepticism on the sincerity of their commitment to addressing the grievances of the people. It is pertinent to note that protesters are led by local leaders belonging to different parts of the federating unit. These leaders are confronted with the challenge of adopting a unison approach towards the resolution of the issue. Their varying opinions are a major stumbling block in reaching a conclusive solution of the issue.

It is quite evident from the trajectory of these protests that India, our enemy, has opportunistically taken advantage of the unstable situation to pursue its own goal. Together with social media, Indian media channels have coordinated a deliberate attempt to present a distorted and negative story, spreading lies and misinformation with the intention of damaging Pakistan’s reputation. More than ever, public education and awareness-building about the malicious influence of India’s dark propaganda apparatus are essential. We must unwaveringly support and appreciate the sincere attempts made by the Government of Pakistan (GOP) and the AJK government to address the underlying problems and bring stability back. On the other hand, unity and solidarity are critical in the face of internal and external challenges, and any attempts to maintain a culture of political opportunism and division within the government ranks should be strongly rejected.

Omay Aimen
The writer is an independent researcher who writes on issues concerning national and regional security. She can be reached 
at omayaimen333@gmail.com

The writer frequently contributes to issues concerning national and regional security, focusing on matters having a critical impact on these milieus. She can be reached at omayaimen333
@gmail.com