As leaders go on jaunts, PoK, GB cry for help

Even as the so-called President of occupied Kashmir, Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry, was busy meeting  senior United Nations officials, a high school in Jheng area was being ransacked by assailants who first attacked the school staff and then molested school girls.

The incident shook the entire community already reeling with severe food crisis and power breakdown. Little that is known about the ghastly incident, a gang of ruffians ransacked the school and held the entire school hostage. Policemen were stoned and teachers were assaulted with knives. One of the assailants even whipped out a gun to threaten them. It was mayhem in the school. Children and their parents have since been petrified.

In the Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan, the education department has been in shambles. Office staff remain absent most of the time as their bosses are cooling heels in Islamabad. Local people are forced to wait for days for any official to hear their complaints. As a result of this lackadaisical approach of the administration, over 22 percent of children remain out of school. According to a socio-economic survey conducted by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), 22% (125,894) of GB’s total population of children (569,421) were unable to attend any school. Of these figures, 20% (58,671) were boys and 24% (68,175) were girls.

The occupied province is also becoming notorious for worsening law and order. Crime has become a serious issue on top of the food and power crises. Crime graph has been rising rapidly in GB in the wake of widespread food shortage and power breakdowns. Increasing population, shrinking resources, rising joblessness and poverty are pushing the crime index higher day by day, leaving people even more hapless.

As criminals are gaining ground, police are acting more hand in glove with them than helping the frightened people. Along with crime, another disturbing trend is the rising figures of suicides. In January alone, three men and two women took their own lives, creating fear psychosis in the local community. According to a recent report on the disturbing phenomenon, Prevention of Suicides in Gilgit Baltistan: An Integrated Multisectoral Strategy and Roadmap for Implementation,” betweenJanuary 2005 and June 2022, 573 suicidal deaths were reported from the mountainous region.The numbers shot up in 2022 with 65 cases being reported in the first seven months, more than double, as compared to 2021. Of these, 79 percent of deceased were in the age bracket of 15 to 39 years, while more than half of all deaths were in males. The study also cautioned these numbers might be low as data collection was not robust enough due to social reasons.

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