Muzaffarabad: – The people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) have taken to the streets to protest against the dams being built on the Jhelum and Neelam rivers. On Monday, people carrying torches held slogans against Pakistan and China. The people of PoK are complaining that the interests of the local people are not taken into consideration while implementing the development projects. The discontent over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is seen not only in PoK but also in Sindh and Balochistan provinces.
A few months ago, Pakistan and China signed agreements for building hydroelectric projects at Azad Pattan and Kohala. These projects are being built on the Jhelum and Neelam rivers. Of these, Azad Pattan is a 707 megawatts project and is a part of CPEC. The Chinese company has invested USD 1.54 billion in the project. Whereas, the Kohala hydroelectric project being only 90 kilometres from Islamabad becomes important to Pakistan. Chinese company Three Georges has invested in the project, and the project is expected to be completed in 2026.
But the locals are accusing that the Jhelum and Neelam rivers are being diverted to feed the hydroelectric projects. Therefore, the locals have delivered a stern message, ‘Let our rivers flow and let us live’ to Pakistan and China through the protests. ‘Darya Bachao Muzaffarabad Bachao’ committee has started protests against China and Pakistan to stop the Chinese interference in PoK through the medium of these projects. The protests are receiving a massive response from the locals. The committee has warned that the protests will continue till the projects are cancelled, and China withdraws from the region. The cities in PoK have been resonating with the slogan ‘Neelam Jhelum Behne do, Humko Jinda Rehne Do’. This has added to the concerns of the Pakistan government.
Meanwhile, cases of corruption have been exposed in the CPEC. It has been revealed that the Pakistan military is involved in them. The people of PoK are protesting. But the Pakistan government and the army are trying to divert the attention of the people by using the hate India card.