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Sunday, November 26, 2023

AJK Elections 2021- What does Kashmir demand?

With regard to the upcoming AJK Elections 2021, the author highlights the demands of the Kashmiri population under the National Charter of Demands. According to the author, if AJK is to prosper, then existing laws should be replaced with new ones.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” M.L. King. If we judge ourselves on this quote, most of us are living with souls so dead that we float over political waves.

We have never bothered about what national demands and interests are. We have been voting for our vested interests on the price of national interests. It is never too late to mend. We must realign ourselves with national demands and interests. There is a dire need for a national vow and resolution to vote for national demands and interests in the coming AJK elections 2021.

Read more Kashmir awaits a peaceful future

‘Freedom of Kashmir’ – where is it?

None of the AJK political parties runs its election campaign with the slogan of freedom of Kashmir. Freedom of Kashmir is not their manifesto even MC, the self-called sole state political party has been voting for power chair instead of Kashmir freedom.

The rest of, core political parties have been engineered by Pakistani political parties and they are completely directed from Pakistan instead of working according to the wishes and aspirations of their voters or Kashmiris. When the watchman turns into a robber, no one can save the owner. We have even failed to raise the Kashmir freedom slogan as political rhetoric.

The Kashmiris always complain that no one has done anything significant for Kashmir. If we look to probe our conscience, we hold the greatest responsibility of all. Just look at the irony of Kashmiris, we can’t even select our Chairman Kashmir Committee and Minister for Kashmir Affairs from Kashmir.

We need to peer into our conscience before looking to Kashmir’s cause. No one can be a Kashmiri ambassador except Kashmiris themselves. Although there is great hope for change in the coming elections as compared to the past, yet no significant change is expected as political capitalism and external political engineering is not stopped.

AJK has been ruled by a few families since its emergence as a Pakistani administered area. The patriotic but politically chained Kashmiris must resolutely come forward with the following National Charter of Demands in the 2021 elections.

Our leaders cannot win their chair against the will of Islamabad, how will they free Kashmir? As a nation, the following charter of demands will help in strengthening our patriotic vigor and creating awareness about national interests.

The rightful demands of Kashmiris

We demand that Kashmiri and other local languages must be prescribed as compulsory subjects up to matriculation level because we have sacrificed language and culture on the political altar. We demand our independent national Kashmiri designed syllabus for our educational system.

The Kashmiris are pushed to the blind alley regarding their history, history of freedom struggle, geostrategic vitality of Kashmir, and other important aspects of national identity. We demand that the History of Kashmir and the history of freedom of Kashmir must be prescribed as a compulsory subject up to matriculation and as an elective subject onward.

Overwhelming Kashmir population adheres to agriculture, we demand sub-campuses of agricultural universities in all districts of AJK. We also demand skills and training programs and workshops for our farmers.

We also demand national initiatives under government supervision for the promotion, protection, and preservation of Kashmiri culture. We demand shell-proof bunkers on an immediate basis for the population facing LoC or their settlement in alternate safe areas. We also ask for self-defense programs for LoC residents so that they can take safety measures during Indian shelling.

Read more: Firing along Line of Control: Indian barbarism injures six civilians including two girls

We, Kashmiris demand Kashmiri representatives in the UN and Kashmiri ambassador all over the world for Kashmir cause as we want to give up crutches.  We demand redesigning and immediate enforcement of RTI Law in AJK so that we can root out corruption from AJK.

We demand jobs on merit through a transparent system, free from political, ethnic, nepotism, bribery, or any other internal or external means influencing the system. The Kashmiris demand an increase in medical, engineering, IT, and social sciences seats as well as scholarships.

The Kashmiri demand for protection and surety of their existing constitutional state identity without any modification in any form or means. We demand legal and constitutional amendments in the local government system as the existing local government system has utterly failed to deliver. Rather, it has become the mother of corruption. We demand judicial reforms so that our people can get justice without any delay.

MLA visits should be made mandatory

We demand electoral reforms so that the public representatives can be accountable in front of the masses rather than yoking them. If we can formulate laws for attending assembly sessions for an MLA, why have not we made a law for an MLA to visit, revisit and forward his visits and progress report about his area?

Laws are made in the name of the masses but they are always made by the rich and ruling for the rich and the ruling.  Our MLA flees from the area after winning elections and is seen nowhere till the next election.

We demand legal, constitutional, and party rule amendments to make it mandatory for an MLA to visit his area before or after every Assembly session in case of violating the law or party rules his results must be canceled and the second position candidate must be allotted the responsibility.

Our MLAs are exceptions to the law, they rule the people instead of serving them. The Election Commission must make it mandatory for an Ex MLA to submit his progress report along with his documents; the election commission must examine the report and verify it from local representatives through his own sources.

Read more: Kashmiris fear demographic changes under controversial new land laws

Democratic seats for women and youth

The irony of the situation is that the lawmakers are the lawbreakers.  We demand reforms in the police department because, after Dogras and the English, this department has left no stone unturned to vex the masses. This rein less department must be reformed.

We demand the equal establishment of factories and mills in all the districts of AJK so that our people might not move to far-flung areas of Pakistan, away from their families for livelihood.

We demand in time Local bodies Elections so that the power is transferred to local people. We follow the election schedule but we trample down local election schedules. We demand 50% seat reservations for women and youths in the coming elections 2021 as it is unjustified and undemocratic that the majority is ruled by a few.

We have a higher female ratio in AJK but they are not given their legal and democratic rights of seats as per their population ratio. The same is with the youth, the old are ruling the youths and the latter are looking forward to the demise of the former so that they may get their turn.

Read more: Forgotten Women of Kashmir: Thirty Years On…!

We demand constitutional and electoral reforms to put an end to hereditary politics to free the masses from the clutches of capitalistic and feudal mindsets.

We demand constitution and electoral amendments in appointing president and prime minister and speaker district wise in every election so that all the districts and people have equal opportunities of enjoying funds, powers, facilities, and prestige. It is against democratic ethics that only certain districts have been and are enjoying these designations.

We demand reforms in the forest, mineral, tourism, education, health, child protection, women rights, civil rights, civic rights, and formulation and implementation of laws for public welfare especially for orphans, widows, old aged, special persons, calamity hit people and laborers.

We demand ending deposit law as it is nurturing political capitalism and feudalism and restrains youths from politics. It is also contradictory to basic civil rights.

The Writer is Prof. in English and Freelance Columnist, based in Lahore, Pakistan, and can be reached at Prof.abdulshakoorsyed@gmail.com