PM Shehbaz approves immediate provision of Rs23bn to AJK

Published May 13, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting regarding Azad Jammu and Kashmir matters in Islamabad on May 13. — PakPMO via @GovtofPakistan
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting regarding Azad Jammu and Kashmir matters in Islamabad on May 13. — PakPMO via @GovtofPakistan
Protesters gather in AJK on May 12. — DawnNewsTV
Protesters gather in AJK on May 12. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday approved the immediate provision of Rs23 billion to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) after the region witnessed clashes and protests in the past few days.

The Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), which has traders at the forefront in most parts of the state, has been seeking the provision of electricity as per hydropower generation cost in AJK, subsidised wheat flour and an end to the privileges of the elite class.

On May 9 and 10, around 70 activists were arrested by police in a bid to prevent a long march — announced by the JAAC to press the government to comply with an agreement reached between the two in February this year — triggering serious clashes in Dadyal and a “shutter-down strike” call.

Amid a crippling strike on Friday, fierce clashes between police and protesters were witnessed in different areas of Muzaffarabad.

The next day, AJK witnessed violent clashes between the police and the activists amid a wheel-jam and shutter-down strike across the territory, leaving at least one police official dead and more than 90 others injured.

On Sunday, as a possible agreement between the JAAC and the AJK government had remained elusive, the situation initially remained calm but the protest movement resumed its march on Muzaffarabad.

The movement announced its march on the state capital after the talks between the JAAC core committee and AJK Chief Secretary Dawood Bareach in Rawalakot ended in a stalemate, prompting a protest leader from Rawalakot to accuse the government of resorting to evasive tactics.

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari and PM Shehbaz had vowed to address the “genuine demands” of protesters, urging all stakeholders to exercise restraint and resolve the issues through dialogue.

In light of the protests, government offices and educational institutions were to remain closed today.

Prime Minister Sharif chaired a special meeting today in Islamabad, which was attended by AJK PM Chaudhry Anwarul Haq, local ministers and top political leadership, the PM’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

Federal ministers and leaders of the coalition parties also took part in the meeting, where a detailed review of the situation was taken, it added.

AJK leaders and all participants appreciated PM Shehbaz for his decision, the PMO said.

AJK PM terms subsidy package a ‘gift’ from government

Addressing a press conference later, the AJK PM termed the subsidy package a “gift” from the government.

He alleged that India “attempted to create chaos and mayhem in the AJK but failed due to the people who could not tolerate Indian interference in internal matters”.

The AJK PM said that some 100 policemen were injured and a sub-inspector was martyred during the protests.

He said that the government supported AJK by allocating Rs10bn from the Social Protection Fund that would be transferred to the AJK Bank.

He thanked the premier on behalf of the AJK and the coalition government that the longstanding problems were solved within minutes of his instructions.

“The consumers will be charged Rs3 per unit for using up to 100 units, Rs5 per unit for over 100 to 300 units and Rs6 for over 300 units whereas the flour price per 40kg bag has been fixed at Rs2,000,” he said.

The notifications, he added, were issued.

The premier said it would be a “permanent relief” for the AJK people as it would be included in the budget for the next financial year.

He claimed that AJK had fewer privileges than the four provinces.

“There is a coalition government, every party has its ideology, manifesto and agenda but all of them are now on the same page for the development and prosperity of the region,” he added.

While responding to a question, he said that financial assistance of Rs10m would be given to the family of the martyred sub-inspector.

A notification from the AJK Energy and Water Resources Department said the AJK president approved the following tariffs for domestic and commercial users:

  • 1-100 units: Rs3 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for domestic users
  • 100-300 units: Rs5/kWh for domestic users
  • 1-300 units: Rs10/kWh for commercial users
  • 300+ units: Rs6/kWh for domestic users, Rs15/kWh for commercial users

Additional input from Tariq Naqash.

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