What is POK | Facts and History
PoK means “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” is a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was taken by Pakistan in 1947 and includes Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan.
PoK is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and hence an integral part of India, and Pakistan has had illegitimate control over it since 22, 1947. Pakistan has administratively divided PoK into two parts named ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir‘ also known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The borders of PoK touch the Pakistan area of Punjab, Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan, Xinjiang region of China, and east of Indian Kashmir.
During the partition, the Indian sub-continent was divided along with religious lines, and Pakistan and India were formed. Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state and has the option of deciding to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent.
Because of its location, Jammu and Kashmir could choose either India or Pakistan but the ruler of Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh was unable to decide as he himself was a Hindu while its subjects were Muslims. Unable to decide Maharaja Hari Singh planned to remain neutral and preferred to remain independent but his hopes were thrashed when Pakistan invaded the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to the Indian government for help and agreed to be a part of India, signing the Instrument of Accession. According to the condition, Jammu and Kashmir had to accept themselves as the state of India and India had to give some rights like defense, foreign policy, and communication.
Hari Singh accepted it but by then the rebels had captured a large part of Kashmir and declared themselves free and this part is now called Azad Kashmir or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The total area of PoK is about 13 thousand square kilometers, where about 3 million people live. Although this part remains mostly in oblivion, Pakistan directly interferes with PoK. Both India and Pakistan continued to claim their jurisdiction on this part and many types of claims were presented at various times. Even now this part remains a political issue.
The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad and it includes 8 districts, 19 Tehsils, and 182 federal councils. The eight districts of PoK are Mirpur, Bhimbar, Kotli, Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Neelam, Rawalakot, and Sudhanoti.
India and Pakistan have fought their first war over Kashmir in 1947-48 and India took the matter to United Nations and UN asked Pakistan to remove its troops and India also withdraw its troops, it was now in hands of Kashmir people to decide their future. An emergency government was formed under Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister, but Pakistan ignored the UN mandate and continue to fight. In 1949, a ceasefire was agreed and a Line of Control formed a border between the two countries.
Prime Minister of PoK is the main Chief Executive Officer, who works with his Council of Ministers and it is claimed that the region has its own government but the truth is that this government works only under the control of Pakistan. PoK has its own Supreme Court and High Court. The literacy rate of the area is 72 percent even when it is short of schools and colleges.
People of PoK are mainly dependent on agriculture wheat, barley, corn, mangoes, and millet are mainly grown. Some of the main produces are mushrooms, honey, walnuts, apples, cherries, some medicines, nuts, and firewood. There are some reserves of chalk, coal, bauxite found in the area.
People of the region speak Pashto, Urdu, Kashmiri, and Punjabi and they mostly work abroad in Europe and the Middle East as laborers.
The area is under the control of Pakistan administration and is been allowed to remain backward with no development, and Pakistan has been using people as terrorism against India. Ajmal Kasab, who was convicted for the Mumbai attacks, was trained in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Apart from PoK Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s 5,130 sq km of PoK territory Hunza-Gilgit, the Shaksgam Valley, the region of Raksam and Baltistan was handed over to China by Pakistan in 1963. This area is called the Trans Karakoram Tract.
Suggested Read: Kashmir Before And After Article 370