MUZAFFARABAD: An alliance of nationalist organisations has announced holding a “public protest march” here on Tuesday (Oct 22) for establishment of an “interim representative constituent assembly” in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

Speaking at a press conference recently, Raja Zulfiqar, Sardar Liaquat Hayat, Mir Afzaal Sulehria and other office-bearers of the Peoples National Alliance (PNA) said that processions and rallies from all districts would reach Muzaffar­abad by Monday evening to take part in the march on the following day.

The alliance brings together around 16 organisations and groups calling for complete independence of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir from both India and Pakistan.

The PNA leaders said that the alliance was formed in the wake of India’s Aug 5 move “to launch a movement for an end to lockdown in occupied Kashmir, withdrawal of foreign forces from the divided state and its subsequent reunification”.

In the first phase of movement, protest demonstrations were staged across AJK on August 26 to raise voice for discontinuance of curfew and other curbs in occupied Kashmir and restoration of State Subject rules, they said.

Under the second phase, started on Sept 16 from Bhimber, rallies, public meetings and seminars were being continuously held in different parts of AJK.

They said the public protest march of Oct 22 would begin from Upper Adda Muzaffarabad and conclude outside the AJK Legislative Assembly building “peacefully”.

“We believe that over the past 72 years the rulers in Muzaffarabad have completely failed to take any solid step for liberation of Kashmir,” said PNA president Raja Zulfiqar, a lawyer by profession.

“The existing [AJK] assembly has also failed to play its role in this regard. Therefore, it should be abolished and replaced with a representative, revolutionary, interim constituent assembly,” he added.

Mr Zulfiqar called upon the government of Pakistan to unite AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan, recognise their government as the representative government of the entire erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and open its embassy in Islamabad.

In reply to a question, he said contrary to the claims of the AJK government, the PNA firmly believed that the rulers and the government formed under an interim constitution (Act 1974) were devoid of any authority.

“They are helpless and toothless, without any legal standing at the international level which is why the world does not attach importance to their calls,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2019