(An excerpt from article “PaK: Ethnicity, Democracy and Islam” taken from book titled “Of Occupation and Resistance, Writings from Kashmir”)
By Mazhar Iqbal
The nationalist elements have gained popularity in recent years. They have been actively involved in highlighting human rights abuses and restrictions on civil liberties. In the past, they have been defensive and on their guard against the federal government’s highly authoritative rule, but now they are much more forceful and outspoken. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (different groups), Kashmir National Party, Jammu and Kashmir National Awami Party and the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP) are prominent among the nationalist elements.
Despite the fact that the majority of the supporters of Independent Kashmir hail from areas which come under Pakistani control, Kashmiri nationalistic expression has gained much more popularity in European states than in PaK itself. Perhaps the hegemonic and authoritarian policies of the Pakistani government are responsible for this. These groups feel that Pakistan has not only curtailed their interests, but also exploited the region’s resources and their hard-earned money. UKPNP is one of these groups that has recently been active in PaK and abroad. This group is led by Switzerland-based nationalist leader Shaukat Kashmiri, and has supporters in the UK, Europe, America and Gulf countries.