British-Kashmiri activist Tanveer Ahmed has been given a two-year sentence by a local Pakistan court. He had removed the Pakistan flag (a symbol he believes is not in sync with the special autonomous status that the region deserves) from a square in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
Who is Tanveer Ahmed?
It's been more than a decade since Tanveer Ahmed began making videos in support of his activism. He grew up in London and moved to his family's ancestral home in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and has been a staunch supporter of Kashmiri independence.
Earlier this month when a BBC reporter spoke to him outside the court on whether he was being treated fairly, Tanveer said, "Not at all. Judiciary is being used as a proxy by the Pakistan state and am not being given the right to defend myself."
Exiled and tortured political leaders from PoK are neither new nor unknown. Last year, at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri raised the issue of Tanveer Ahmed. He was arrested and allegedly tortured by Pakistani agencies for protesting against hoisting the Pakistani flag in PoK.
The parallels and those who want a separate state
There are always parallels drawn between Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Both sides accusing each other and the security forces of committing human rights violations. There's no denying the presence of separatists. A significant portion of the region would like to have independence and be considered a separate state.
In PoK, anyone wanting to stand in a local parliament has to pledge support for the state's accession to Pakistan. Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan, Prime Minister Pakistan Administered Kashmir on being questioned whether he felt comfortable as a Kashmiri leader seeing Kashmiri nationalist like Tanveer Ahmed being persecuted for peaceful activism, defended his stance, in an interview to the BBC, "Bringing down the flag is not peaceful activism. It's punishable under the law. You cannot disrespect the national flag. I would say there is a law you can appeal to the higher state."
#PakistaniFlag brought down in PoK.. #Tanveer_Ahmad, a well known journalist has been arrested in #dadyal Pakistan occupied Kasmir #PoK for removing Non state Pakistani flag from Maqbool Butt Shaheed Square@UNOCHA#Pakistan#StandWithTanveerAhmed@TajinderBagga @sambitswaraj pic.twitter.com/Y0YUELg4DK— Sandeep Seth (@sandipseth) August 21, 2020
Ahmed's family although very concerned about his safety and wellbeing, feels it's very selfless what he has done, giving up his life in the UK to move to Kashmir. They want the British government to intervene and help secure his release.
When it comes to India and Pakistan the conflict is long-running, the opinions widely vary, passions run intense and the solution is hardly in sight. Many called out the hypocrisy of Pakistan, while some wondered if there's any way New Delhi can intervene in the matter. Many doubted his intentions and whether he would do the same to the Indian flag in PoK.