Strasbourg, Nov.25: International human rights defenders and members of the European Parliament today severely criticized both China and Pakistan for what they called growing human rights violations in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and in Gilgit-Baltistan. Seven of the over 120 participants taking part in the conference on the theme of “China in Pakistan: Growing Human Rights Concerns” were particularly severe in their opinions about the role being played by both of these countries in territories seen as having disputed status. (Also Read: India, China ‘most affected by weather-related disasters’: UN)
The participants were from the European Parliament, civil society and the European Union.
The conference had the following speakers
Mr. Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice President European Parliament
Mr. Alberto Cirio, Member of the European Parliament
Mr. Fulvio Martusciello, Member of the European Parliament
Ms. Patricia Sulin, Member of the European Parliament
Mr. Javed Mohammed Khan, Deputy Director, Baluchistan House Mr. Li Xi Chen, who is a freelance journalist, moderated the conference.
Mr. Czarnecki spoke how China is engaged in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan in construction ranging from dams, highways and ports. He spoke of the feeling of resentment among locals in Gilgit Baltistan and PoK over the negative environmental impact and the utter disregard for environmental safety norms by the Chinese infrastructure developers. Chinese construction projects literally trash the environment.
Mr. Cirio expressed his concern over China’s increased military presence in these areas under the pretext of ensuring safety to their workers. He also mentioned that the Chinese Army has started to create a divide between Shias and Sunnis in the region, which is causing a direct threat to the region and not only to the locals. Cirio said the presence of the Chinese Army is a threat to the stability of the region and questioned Pakistan as to why it has allowed the former to establish such a presence.
He also mentioned that there should be a mechanism setup to investigate the adverse effects of the presence of the Chinese Army in Pakistan Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Mr. Fulvio Martusciello said Pakistan appeared to have gifted the Gwadar Port to China as a parking point for Chinese naval ships. He also highlighted the loss of local Baluch lives in the wake of farms being forcefully taken for port construction while the Pakistani Government stood by silently.
Ms. Patricia Sulin mentioned that China is developing schools, hospitals and other emergency service in return for mining licenses to Chinese companies. This, she said, is endangering natives. She said that she will be requesting the European External Action Service (EEAS) to look into the matter and increase pressure on Islamabad to withdraw Pakistani and Chinese personnel from the area.
Mr. Javed Mohammed Khan, spoke about capital punishment in Pakistan being focused on the people of Baluchistan. He was particular critical of the roles of the Pakistan Army, the ISI and the police, who he said commit widespread abuses. He quoted Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as saying in a recent parliamentary speech that there are many spy agencies in Baluchistan. He was also critical of Pakistan’s kill and dump policy in the region.