ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan has decided to lodge a formal protest with India through the Foreign Office over discrimination being meted out to the Muslims by authorities in India-held Kashmir (IHK) during flood relief operation.
The decision was made at a meeting of the committee, headed by Baz Mohammad Khan of the Awami National Party, here on Wednesday.
The meeting was briefed on the “loss of human life and livestock and damage caused to property, roads and infrastructure due to recent heavy rains and floods in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), measures taken to prevent such losses and rescue and relief activities in the flood-stricken areas of AJK”.
Kashmiri Muslims facing discrimination in flood relief
Mr Khan told Dawn that AJK’s chief secretary told the meeting that Indian authorities had adopted a discriminatory attitude to flood-affected Muslims in IHK and were providing no assistance to them.
He said the committee members expressed concern over such reports and said there should be no discrimination with any segment of population in the wake of a natural disaster like flood and earthquake.
They said India, known as the world’s biggest secular democracy, should abandon its discriminatory attitude in providing relief to the flood-affected people of the IHK.
The committee’s chairman said they would write a letter to the Foreign Office and ask it to take up the matter with India. They plan to call the FO officials in the next meeting of the committee on the issue.
According to an official handout, the meeting was informed by the chief secretary that the losses in the region were mainly caused by landslides triggered by rains and flash floods.
The committee members expressed concerns over poor preventive and precautionary measures taken by the AJK administration. They suggested that iron gabions should be built to prevent landslides.
But the chief secretary said the mountain terrain in AJK had wet soil and the situation was uncontrollable after widespread rains. Moreover, the mountains have become weak after the 2005 earthquake and landslides have become a regular feature.
The committee was informed that about 3,000 people had been evacuated from Bagh, Poonch, Kotli and Mirpur.
Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Barjees Tahir proposed that chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, the director general of metrological department and the foreign secretary should also be called in the next meeting of the committee. The proposal was welcomed by the chairman.