Retired Justice Abdul Majeed Malik, AWP’s Abid Hassan Minto and others sit on stage during the conference on Kashmir in Islamabad on Sunday. — Online
Retired Justice Abdul Majeed Malik, AWP’s Abid Hassan Minto and others sit on stage during the conference on Kashmir in Islamabad on Sunday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Participants of a multi-party conference, regarding the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections that will be held this July, emphasised the need for the Pakistani government to stop imposing its decisions on Kashmiris and respect their wishes. They also called for a constituent assembly to be established in Kashmir.

Titled ‘Azad Jammu Kashmir Election under AJK Interim Act 1974 Violation of Right of Self Determination and Freedom of Expression’, the conference was organised by the United Kashmir Peoples National Party and held at a local hotel on Sunday.

Awami Workers Party (AWP) head Abid Hussain Minto said the people of Pakistan and the people of Kashmir have suffered due to the Kashmir dispute.

“Kashmir has become dependent on Pakistan financially and politically. The people of Kashmir should have the right to decide about their future and the government of Pakistan should not impose its opinion,” he said.

“If Kashmir was made independent on the basis of religion, it will have the same problems which Pakistan has been facing. Powers should be given to Kashmiris for being people, instead for being Muslims,” he said.

Former AJK Supreme Court Justice Abdul Majeed Malik said the people of Palestine had gotten their identity as a nation, but the people of Kashmir were far behind. He said the AJK 1974 Act was not in accordance with the Constitution.

United Kashmir Peoples National Party senior vice chairperson Naila Khani said that the section on Annexation (of Kashmir with Pakistan) should be removed from the 1974 act.

She added that a constituent assembly should be established for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

The leader of the Saraiki National Party Abdul Hameed Kanju said the people of the Saraiki belt were suffering from the same problems as Kashmiris. “If nationalists are not allowed to contest elections it will not be called a democratic election,” he said.

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) representative Saleem Butt said there is a controlled democratic system.

“We are facing slavery, and Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) cannot meet each other because of two nuclear states,” he said.

Kashmiri nationalist leader and intellectural Prof M.A.R.K. Khaleeq said the people of Kashmir should have the right to decide their future, even if they want a separate state.

PPP AJK leader Sahibzada Zulfiqar said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made the 1974 act with consensus. He said: “If the Kashmir council is being used as a tool to control Kashmiris and funds are being distributed unfairly, the act can be amended according to the requirements.”

However, Sabir Kashmiri, a representative from another faction of the JKLF, argued that independence could not be conditional.

He said: “I believe that the 1974 act should be abolished and a constituent assembly should be established.”

A representative of the Karakoram National Movement Mumtaz Nagri said nationalists were not allowed to participate in the 2015 elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, because they said the Pakistani government should not violate its own Constitution.

‘Our leader Baba Jan was sent to jail where he still is in jail. We are not allowed to protest, and if we want to hold an event we have to tell the administration beforehand what we will say in the event,” he said.

“In GB, officers are appointed from other areas, and local officers are removed by levelling allegations against them.”

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2016

Opinion

Editorial

Worsening hunger
Updated 08 Dec, 2022

Worsening hunger

THAT the dollar liquidity crunch has started hurting the import of essential items such as vegetables and raw...
Bannu beheading
Updated 08 Dec, 2022

Bannu beheading

The state must take up the cudgels and neutralise barbarism before it spreads.
Smog misery
08 Dec, 2022

Smog misery

IF 2022 has taught us anything, it is that generations of reckless disregard for Mother Nature has accrued very ...
Disquiet on the western front
Updated 07 Dec, 2022

Disquiet on the western front

IT is very difficult for Pakistan to be delinked from Afghanistan, because of reasons of geography and history.
Fuel from Russia
07 Dec, 2022

Fuel from Russia

THE apparent headway made with Russia for the purchase of its crude oil, petrol and diesel at discounted prices is a...
More women SHOs
07 Dec, 2022

More women SHOs

IT is encouraging to see more employment avenues opening up for women in Pakistan, with an increasing number of...