Rights Group Asks Pakistan to Let Pro-independence Candidates Run in Kashmir Election Print
Written by Human Rights Watch   
Friday, 07 July 2006 00:00

An international rights group on Friday urged authorities to let pro-independence candidates run in next week's Legislative Assembly election in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir.

Current law allows candidates to run only if they support Kashmir's union with Pakistan. Officials have rejected nomination papers from several pro-independence candidates, barring them from the July 11 polls.

The Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between rivals Pakistan and India, which both claim the Muslim-majority province in its entirety and have fought two wars over it. Militants have been fighting for the Indian side's merger with Pakistan, or for the area's full independence.

On Friday, New-York based Human Rights Watch asked Pakistan to amend the laws so pro-independence candidates can also take part in the political process and freely contest the polls.

"The electoral law undermines Kashmiris' basic political rights by barring them from seeking office if they oppose Kashmir's accession to Pakistan," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"Those who favor independence invite the ire of Pakistan's abusive intelligence agencies and military, and they risk being beaten and jailed," he said.

Although no government official was immediately available for comments, the demand from Human Rights Watch came after authorities in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, rejected nomination papers from two political parties because they advocate independence.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and little-known United Kashmir People's National Party had also been barred from contesting the 2001 polls for the same reason.


Last Updated on Friday, 10 September 2010 20:26