London: A new campaign has been launched for promoting the rights of the people of Gilgit and Balitstan, the so-called Northern Areas of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan. A meeting called in London on Wednesday by Baroness Emma Nicholson from the House of Lords agreed to take up the cause of people in these regions, who have been denied fair elections and other basic rights.
"This initiative stems from the European Parliament report that I authored in 2007 passed by a huge majority, 522 votes with nine against. There were 522 members in favour from the 27-member states of the European Union. We expressed our greatest concern over the human rights of the people of Gilgit and Baltistan," says Emma Nicholson.
Pakistan claims it holds regular elections. But local leaders say the last one in November was as fraudulent as the ones before it.
"The elections were totally fraud. Those who were pro-Pakistani, in Pakistani parties, participated in the elections, and they were allowed to win," says Balawaristan National Front Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan.
Political leaders speak of continuing local anger with Pakistan.