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14 Interesting facts about PoK or Azaad Kashmir

14 Interesting facts about PoK or Azaad Kashmir
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PoK or Azaad Kashmir has turned the two neighboring countries into kind of conjoined twins. For normal outsiders like us, PoK and it’s the way of living still remains as quite a mystery. Nothing much has been said, heard, read or written about the lives and lifestyle there. News from the valley does come very rarely and it is often very high on a negativity quotient.

Pakistan Occupied kashmir photo

So what are some interesting facts about PoK?

• PoK was never under the direct rule of the British. Even during the colonial years, Jammu and Kashmir was under the kingship of Maharaja Hari Singh. So technically the fact here is that PoK never belonged to India or Pakistan in the first place.
• When the independence came for India at last, Jammu and Kashmir was given the option to join either India or Pakistan. But Maharaja Hari Singh wanted it to remain as an independent state.
• But later Maharaja Hari Singh had a change of mind and wanted to join India, but the decision was made a bit too late as the Pathan Tribesmen had invaded into Jammu and Kashmir by then.
• India can claim control of the region only in a literal sense now after the invasion and attack by the Pakistan Army and Afridi tribes on the princely state of Kashmir.
• PoK is now governed by a Pakistan controlled Legislative assembly which has no power of its own.
• Accession day is more important to Jammu and Kashmir than the Independence Day the rest of the country celebrates. 26th October 1947 is renowned as a holiday there honoring Maharaja Hari Singh’s signing of the Instrument of Accession to India. While the Indian side of the state celebrates the day by raising the Indian flag, singing the National Anthem and with fireworks, the Kashmiri Separatists observe the same day as a Black Day.
• It is quite clear that the area under dispute has no economic value to both the countries. But, it has become a matter of pride for everyone involved in this including the armies of both the countries and the ruling political parties.
• Pakistan rupee is the most popular currency of transaction in the region. The Indian currency is accepted very rarely.
• Azad Kashmir’s capital Muzaffarabad is always on the news for the wrong reasons. It is infamous for being a terrorist hub hosting terrorist organizations like Lakshar-E-Toiba.
• Ajmal Kasab, convicted for the 26/11 terror attacks, underwent his training in Muzaffarabad.
• PoK shares it’s boundaries with China and Afghanistan too apart from the obvious Indian and Pakistani borders.
• PoK is also infamous for an internal conflict between Shias and Sunnis. Shias have been reduced to a minority there and the Sunnis from Pakistan enjoy much more privileges.
• PoK lacks an independent media that is not controlled by the government. The freedom of press and the freedom of expression seem to have no consideration there.
• Only a single radio station called the Azad Kashmir Radio is allowed to operate in PoK.
• PoK has a large refugee population living under miserable conditions with no freedom of expression or basic human rights.

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