Freedom in the World
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Pakistani Kashmir *
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Pakistani Kashmir received an upward trend arrow due to largely peaceful elections for the reformed Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly in November.
Conditions in Pakistani-administered Kashmir improved in 2009 due to reforms affecting the Northern Areas, which were renamed Gilgit-Baltistan, and elections for that region’s new legislative assembly in November. Nevertheless, nationalist groups’ demands for representation in Pakistan’s Parliament remained unfulfilled. Substantive progress on the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan largely stalled in 2009, following November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, by a Pakistan-based militant group, although bilateral talks between the two countries did resume in June.
Despite periodic talks and high-level meetings between India and Pakistan, little progress has been made toward a comprehensive resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The process stalled after Pakistani militants were deemed responsible for a November 2008 terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, and India called on Pakistan to arrest the attack’s organizers. A number of suspects were arrested in February 2009, and in November the Pakistani government charged seven, including alleged mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a leader of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The main objectives of the group, founded in the early 1990s, was to end Indian rule in Kashmir and re-establish Muslim rule throughout the Indian subcontinent.
The political rights of the residents of Pakistani-administered Kashmir remain severely limited, despite a number of improvements tied to the end of military rule and the election of a civilian government at the federal level in 2008, and elections for the new GBLA in November 2009. Neither Gilgit-Baltistan nor Azad Kashmir has representation in Pakistan’s Parliament.