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Protests In PoK: India Blames Pakistan Policy

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NEW DELHI, May 17: India on Friday said the protests witnessed in several parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) are a “natural consequence” of Islamabad’s continued policy of systemic plundering of resources from the region that remains under its “forcible and illegal” occupation.

India also asserted that the entire Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh “have been, are and shall always remain integral parts of India”.

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Violent protests erupted in PoK over rising costs of food, fuel and essential utilities as Pakistan reels under a severe economic crisis.

“We have seen reports on protests in several areas of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said at his weekly media briefing.

He was responding to a question on the protests in PoK.

“We believe that it is a natural consequence of Pakistan’s continued policy of systemic plundering of resources from these territories which remain under its forcible and illegal occupation,” Jaiswal said.

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“Such exploitative policies deny the local people, rights over their own resources and the benefits thereof,” he said.

“We reiterate that the entire Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been, are and shall always remain integral parts of India,” he added.

Two days ago, external affairs minister S Jaishankar asserted that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was, is and will always be part of India.

“I have no doubt in my own mind that someone living in PoK is comparing their situation with someone actually living in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that how is it that people today are actually progressing there,” he said.

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Earlier this month, defence minister Rajnath Singh said India will never give up its claim of PoK but it won’t have to capture it with force because its people, on their own, would want to be part of India after seeing the development  in Kashmir.

“I think India will not have to do anything. The way the ground situation has changed in Jammu and Kashmir, the way the region is witnessing economic progress and the way peace has returned there, I think demands will emerge from people of PoK that they should merge with India,” he said.

“We will not have to use force to take PoK as people would say that we must be merged with India. Such demands are now coming,” he said.

The defence minister asserted that “PoK was, is, and will remain ours”. (PTI)

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