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Even as it deals with its several crises, Pakistan faces a larger issue. People in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) have been demonstrating for for two weeks, demanding that the area be merged with India. This is a historic demand that has entirely reversed the perception that Kashmiris want to join Pakistan.

Viral videos show protesters calling for the reopening of the Kargil Road, which connects the two countries.

People in PoK have had enough of Pakistan’s many failures, including a nationwide wheat flour scarcity, an insurgency in Balochistan, border conflict with Afghanistan, attacks by the Pakistani Taliban, and a debilitating financial crisis. They seek India’s stability.

Since December, exiled PoK leader Shaukat Ali Kashmiri has been convening gatherings in various locations to underscore the sufferings that the people of PoK face. He recently told news agency ANI in Geneva that Pakistan had since 1948 plundered natural resources but in return the people in PoK “got unemployment and exile. Because there are no medical services, the majority of the people have suffered greatly. Even the PM has described that we have no health facility…”.

In the midst of hardships for its people across the country, residents in PoK have been holding daily protests against Pakistan’s discriminatory policies regarding land ownership, demographic changes, tax hikes, and basic living conditions such as power outages, food shortages, and electricity rates.

Pakistan established PoK after invading the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir shortly after India’s partition. Under attack by Pakistani forces and tribal raiders, Maharaja Hari Singh requested military assistance from India, and the Indian Army stopped the Pakistani forces from taking the entire princely state.

Now, more than seven decades later, while Pakistan has descended into a financial and humanitarian crisis, India is racing ahead in economic and technological terms.

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