The situation of media freedom in divided Kashmir !

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Athar Massood Wani;

The term “Pakistan-administered Kashmir” and “Indian-administered Kashmir” refer to the divided parts of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, which have been declared controversial by the Security Council.┬áThe disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir refers to a region whose political future is to be decided in accordance with the independent opinion of the Kashmiris under the Surveillance of the United Nations and to which the international community, including India and Pakistan, has a responsibility. The Kashmiri people have the right to take up the cause of resistance in the face of the unresolved and inhumane solution to the Kashmir issue based on the denial of a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, the stalemate and the current divisions. They are right and the UN Charter also gives Kashmiris this right.

The reaction of Kashmiris against the refusal to resolve the Kashmir issue peacefully and against the efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue on the basis of the present partition is a legitimate and natural human action. Instead of respecting Kashmiris ‘right to freedom, the importance of Kashmiris’ expression increases in the face of killings, torture, arrests, imprisonment, the worst sanctions, repression and military assassinations against Kashmiris.

Pakistan recognizes and adheres to UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. In this regard, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are not included in the areas mentioned by Pakistan in the Constitution of Pakistan. Under Article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan, a constitutional pledge has been made to validate and recognize the views of Kashmiris. The Pakistani government and media see and show Kashmir in their own way, only the opinion of Kashmiris is included at a limited level which speaks only according to the government policy. In Indian-administered (occupied) Kashmir, like politics, journalism has been kept under strict restrictions. dian-administered (occupied) Kashmir has the strictest media restrictions. Many journalists have been killed in Kashmir Valley. Every day Kashmiri journalists face state violence, arrests and constant harassment.

In Indian-administered (occupied) Kashmir, radio and TV are established at the official level and broadcasts of Indian private TV channels are shown there. The Indian government’s strictest restrictions on social media are imposed, Internet services are shut down every day, Arrests are made on social media, including allegations of anti-India sentiments, including terrorism provisions, and they are subjected to various forms of severe disciplinary action. On the occasion of Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Srinagar, disciplinary action has also been initiated in the name of anti-terrorism against those who have contacts with relatives and friends in Occupied Kashmir and outside India through social media.

Arrests, torture, repression and imprisonment of politicians, human rights activists and journalists have become commonplace. In the context of freedom of expression and the strictest restrictions on the media in Indian-occupied Kashmir, the responsibilities of the media in Azad Kashmir are greatly increased when it comes to expressing the views and sentiments of Kashmiris. With regard to the ongoing resistance movement in Indian-occupied Kashmir for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, improving the strategy and representing the Kashmiri people is an important responsibility to strengthen and make effective the media resistance movement in Azad Kashmir. For this, along with improving the quality of media in Azad Kashmir, freedom of media is a prerequisite. In the worst case scenario of media freedom in Occupied Kashmir, the Azad Kashmir government does not pay attention to its responsibility in this regard. Azad Kashmir is dominated by substandard journalism. No role is played by the media and the government in standardizing journalism. In Azad Kashmir, only the Pakistani media is given more importance at the government level which has no interest in giving space to the opinions and sentiments of Kashmiris.

Apart from Pakistani media, Azad Kashmir media has its own status, importance and usefulness. In view of all this, a forum called “Kashmir Freedom Media” (KFM) has been set up which will work for the protection and promotion of freedom of expression, media freedom in both parts of divided Kashmir.