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Protests Persist in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir Despite Government Pledges

In Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK), tensions continue to simmer as protests spearheaded by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC) press forward with their demands, despite reassurances from President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The protest movement, aimed at addressing what demonstrators perceive as unmet grievances, has led to an impasse between JAAC representatives and the PoJK government, resulting in clashes and a palpable sense of unease across the region.


Stalled Negotiations and Rising Tensions

Efforts to reach a resolution between the JAAC and the PoJK government have thus far proven fruitless, with talks in Rawalakot yielding no tangible progress. Participants from various regions, including Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot, Kotli, and Bagh, convened in the hopes of finding common ground.

However, Sardar Umar Nazir Kashmiri, a participant in the discussions, expressed frustration at the lack of substantive outcomes, accusing the government of employing delay tactics.

The persistence of the protest movement has led to disruptions in daily life, with business centers shuttered and public transport suspended in Muzaffarabad and Poonch divisions. Mirpur witnessed a partial strike, underscoring the depth of sentiment fuelling the demonstrations.

Despite closures of government offices and educational institutions in response to the unrest, demonstrators remain steadfast in their demands for concrete action.


Government Calls for Restraint and Dialogue

Amid escalating tensions, President Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz have appealed for restraint and dialogue to defuse the crisis. President Zardari stressed the importance of responsible action by all stakeholders, cautioning against external interference.

Similarly, Prime Minister Shehbaz expressed deep concern over the situation and convened a meeting to address the ongoing crisis, emphasizing the need to uphold the rule of law and protect public property.

In a statement on social media, Prime Minister Shehbaz reaffirmed his commitment to resolving the situation peacefully, despite attempts to politicize the issue. He urged all parties to engage constructively in dialogue, expressing optimism about a swift resolution.


Fears of Escalation Amid Rumors of Ranger Intervention

Rumors of Ranger intervention have added to the atmosphere of uncertainty, fueling fears of further escalation. While the initial withdrawal of the paramilitary force was met with relief by some, reports of their return have heightened anxiety among the populace.

The prospect of increased security measures has exacerbated tensions, with locals expressing apprehension about the potential for violence.

As protests persist in PoJK, the standoff between demonstrators and the government shows no signs of abating. Despite calls for restraint and dialogue from President Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz, efforts to reach a resolution have been stymied by a lack of progress in negotiations.

With tensions running high and fears of escalation looming, the region remains on edge as both sides grapple with the complex challenges facing Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

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