As the positive cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 continue to rise, the Pakistan government has been battling the pandemic with the help of its close friend China, the country which was also the epicentre of the deadly virus. Recently, several doctors along with a consignment of ventilators and essential medicines were also dispatched from China to Pakistan. But shockingly, none of these medical facilities has been extended to the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Pakistan completely abandoned PoK.
In these trying times, the neglect of the Pakistan government has angered the people of PoK. "The situation in PoK is extremely precarious. According to newspaper reports, the Pakistani government is constantly discriminating against the common people and even not supplying basic necessities to the people in PoK," said JNU Professor Nalin Mohapatra to Zee News. China has been providing huge medical supplies and doctors to Pakistan to handle the deadly virus but PoK has been rendered an orphan.
Despite the outbreak of cases related to coronavirus, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) work has been continuing in PoK. China has asked Pakistan to reopen the Khunjerab Pass so that the medical supplies could be provided to Chinese engineers and labourers. An estimated 5,000 Chinese engineers and labourers are currently working on the CPEC projects.
The region of Gilgit-Baltistan has a high percentage of coronavirus cases and the situation is getting out of hand. As per the Pakistan Health Department, there are 153 cases in Gilgit and Baltistan alone among the 2,000 cases reported from all over Pakistan.
The Deputy Speaker of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly, Zagarullah Khan, accompanied by Gilgit-Baltistan Law Minister Airangazeb while visiting the Nagar and Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan on March 30 accused the Pakistan government of not providing any aid to that region.
The economic dependence of Pakistan will increase due to the pandemic and China will extract more natural resources from the PoK territory through mining and power projects. Pakistan will become a semi-colony of China due to the COVID-19 impact. In case coronavirus situation worsens in Pakistan, China may deploy its People's Liberation Army (PLA) to assist the Pakistan Army.
"It appears that Pakistan govt has no control over the situation and they are looking towards China to bail them out. In the long-run, China may treat Pakistan as its another province. This is the reason why it is keeping a mum on Pakistan's activities in promoting terrorism and giving shelter to radical groups," said Mohapatra.
Last week, Kashmiri political activists have slammed Pakistan for shifting coronavirus affected people from the eastern province of Punjab and the rest of the country to Mirpur city in PoK. Nasir Aziz Khan, spokesperson of United Kashmir People' National Party said, "There is no testing facility in PoK that could do basic blood and urine tests." He added that the coronavirus test needs trained doctors and testing kits.