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News Analysis |

The Prime Minister AJK, Raja Farooq Haider made headlines after he stated, “as a Kashmiri, I need to think to which country I should make annexation to if this was the country envisioned by Allama Iqbal” in the wake of disqualification of Nawaz Sharif by a five-member bench of the Supreme Court.

The statement was published by leading newspapers for which Haider faced criticism from political observers and journalists across the country. However, the premier on Sunday clarified that his statement regarding annexation was quoted out of context.

According to a press release issued by the AJK PM House, Raja Farooq Haider denied and condemned the portrayal of his statement about annexation.

“Kashmiris can’t even think about any other option except annexation with Pakistan,” the statement said. “The people of Kashmir are struggling for annexation with Pakistan for over 70 years and we had associated our future with Pakistan ever since Quaid e Azam visited Sri Nagar back in 1944,” it read.

“Kashmiris consider annexation with Pakistan a part of their faith and it’s a matter of life and death for them,” the statement added.

Raja Farooq Haider Khan in his statement claimed that he considered Nawaz Sharif as his leader as he mentioned Burhan Wani in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly. He expressed that the whole nation stood by Nawaz Sharif adding that he had concerns about the verdict handed over by the top court. The statement was not only published in Pakistani newspapers, but it made headlines across the border as well.

(Video courtesy: Youtube and Ary News)

Why did PM AJK go out of the way to support Nawaz?

It is not a secret that the party in power in Islamabad influences elections in AJK and hand picks the Prime Minister. When PPP was in power, it won elections in the Pakistan administered Kashmir. Similarly, after the PML-(N) victory in 2013 elections, it also made a government in the Kashmir. This can be attributed to the constitutional structure of AJK.

The basic idea of forming the council was to reduce direct powers of Islamabad and establish the writ of the elected body and also to raise the level of interaction between Islamabad and Muzaffarabad by making the prime minister of Pakistan chairman of the council.

With the introduction of 1973 constitution, which was parliamentary in structure, efforts were made to introduce a similar system in AJK. Following an accord with the local political parties, on June 10, 1974, the ministry of Kashmir affairs announced a new legislative arrangement for AJK. The act of 1970 was modified and reenacted as the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act of 1974.

Under the new Constitution, the 11-member Council was formed which is headed by Pakistan prime minister as its Chairman while the AJK president is its Vice-Chairman. 

The basic idea of forming the council was to provide a greater autonomy to AJK and reduce Islamabad’s influence over Muzaffarabad. Despite these measures, the 1974 act failed to evolve a balance and consensus formula to sharing of powers between AJK government and the council. Now the balance is heavily tilted in Kashmir council’s favor often rendering the AJK assembly helpless. Perhaps, the Premier, who is a beneficiary of the N League wanted to appease his political patrons, in the process belittling the sacrifices of the Kashmiris, who by no means appear to be in the mood of joining the Indian Union.

Read more: Will al-Qaeda get habitation and a name in Jammu and Kashmir?

A comparison of two Kashmir’s

Despite constitutional weaknesses in AJK, it is peaceful and has progressed and prospered under Pakistan’s administration. The Kashmiri population has assimilated with mainstream Pakistan. Kashmiris, through their hard work and dedication, have made a bright future for themselves in every sphere of life. One will find Kashmiris in bureaucracy, military, the business community, showbiz, sports and other fields.

The situation in IOK exacerbated after the assassination of Burhan Wani in 2016. His death was followed by large scale protests which were clamped down upon by Indian forces with usual brutality. Since 2016, Indian forces have killed hundreds of Kashmiri protesters and have blinded and injured thousands of others by using pellet guns.

In stark contrast, the Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir face continuous curfews, crack downs by Indian security forces. Human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, are an ongoing issue. The allegations range from mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. Many numbers of massacres have taken place in the region since 1990. The Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security personnel and various militant groups have been accused and held accountable for committing severe human rights abuses against Kashmiri civilians.

Read more: Kashmiri civilians terrorized by LoC shellings

The situation in IOK exacerbated after the assassination of Burhan Wani in 2016. His death was followed by large scale protests which were clamped down upon by Indian forces with usual brutality. Since 2016, Indian forces have killed hundreds of Kashmiri protesters and have blinded and injured thousands of others by using pellet guns.

The people of AJK do not want annexation with India. The statement made by PM AJK has offended Kashmiris on both sides of the LOC. 

The clarifications made by Prime Minister AJK, Raja Farooq Haider have come a little late. The Indian media has used this to its advantage and has used it to undermine Pakistan’s stance on Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir. Many believe that it was a classic information operation much to the delight of India.

The people of AJK do not want annexation with India. The statement made by PM AJK has offended Kashmiris on both sides of the LOC.

Read more: OIC resolution: will India face kickbacks in Kashmir?

Reactions in Pakistan

PPP has called for the immediate resignation of PM AJK. In a statement released today, PPP took serious exceptions to the comment and called it hurtful for the Kashmir cause. PTI Chief, Imran Khan censured Haider and asked the Kashmiris to protest outside his house.

Reportedly, people have condemned the statement. They have also called for action to be taken against Jang Group for what they call is an attempt to harm the Pakistani narrative. Owing to the sensitivities of people and policy-makers alike, the statement is being deemed highly inflammatory with some suspecting on the timings of the move. The stalemate over Kashmir continues amid the surge of Indian forces on the gritty Kashmiris. Pakistan wants India to agree to a plebiscite which was ordained in the UN Resolutions which India continually rejects.

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