The Myth of Azad Jammu and Kashmir

25 Dec 2017 11:55:05


Hari K. Sharma

Azad Jammu and Kashmir, rhetorically called as Azad Kashmir is an ostensibly self-governing polity occupied and administered by Pakistan. The territory was part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and de jure an integral part of India. The territory shares border with Gilgit Baltistan and jointly referred as Pak Occupied Jammu Kashmir (POJK). Factually the term AJK is hoax, the real term for this area is Mirpur & Muzaffarabad. So, I will use the term Mirpur & Muzaffarabad in the article. Territorially, Azad Jammu and Kashmir is around one-sixth of the size of Gilgit-Baltistan. These areas were forcibly seized from India during the first Indo-Pak conflict in 1947.  

The state of Jammu and Kashmir became an integral part of India when Maharaja Hari Singh acceded it with the dominion of India on October 26, 1947 under a legitimate instrument of accession. The instrument of accession that was signed by the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was the same as signed by all other princely states and was also signified by Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India on October 27, 1947.  The Government of India Act 1947 clearly mentions that once this Letter of Accession was signed by the ruler of the princely state it stood as a final settlement that could not be challenged either by the Indian or Pakistani governments or even by the British Parliament. All princely states acceded to India or to Pakistan on this same letter format.

The Hollow Cry for AJK

The demand for an Azad Kashmir or Azad Jammu and Kashmir is Pak sponsored propaganda to keep the rhetoric of freedom alive in Jammu and Kashmir. The people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir were as free citizens of India as any other citizen living in any part of India. Their status of being ‘free Indian citizen’ is in force ever since Jammu and Kashmir joined the Indian dominion. Pakistan’s demand of Jammu and Kashmir is based on the forcible occupation (de facto control) of Indian Territory and the rhetoric of Azadi for Kashmiri Muslims. Pakistan's new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while addressing a conference on `Future of Pakistan 2017 at the London School of Economics has recently admitted that idea of Azad Kashmir that is often floated around "has no reality" and that "there is no support for the demand of being independent." Farooq Abdullah of the Nationalist Congress Party has also said it time and again that Azadi for Kashmir is not possible. The state of Pakistan and the separatist forces of India have manipulated the sentiments of Kashmiri Muslims, make them felt vulnerable and subjugated and run their propaganda machinery for an unrealistic demand of Azadi.   

The Status of Gilgit Baltistan

Aided and abetted by the British, Pakistan established its control over the region. For a while, these areas were projected as part of the so-called ‘AJK’.

Pakistan has forcibly occupied the Gilgit Baltistan along with Mirpur & Muzaffarabad in 1947 and since then that area is facing an identity crises. On one hand India considers it as its own territory, Pakistan till date was not able to decide its political status as being part of Pakistan despite having a de facto control over it. The area is being governed by the federal government in accordance with the Karachi Agreement of 1949 (April 28, 1949). The area has been undemocratically and illegally ruled by the state of Pakistan without any provincial status or representation. Large scale human rights violations were also reported from the area. An activist from Gilgit Baltistan, Abdul Hamid Khan, who was also Chairman of Balawaristan National Front (BNF), has written a letter to Chairman of UN, Ban-Ki-Moon on August 19, 2016 regarding the political oppression and mass human rights violation of the people of Pakistan Occupied Gilgit Baltistan (PoGB). The area has been used as an economic colony by the state of Pakistan. In the month of May and July 2017 thousands of people of Gilgit- Baltistan have protested against the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Land has been forcibly occupied for the people and the affected people were not given adequate compensation. Apart from that, the local people will have no share in the anticipated economic benefits of the project.

So far theregion has been governed through bureaucratic tool and on ad-hoc arrangements, throughadministrative packages and Presidential Orders issued by Government of Pakistan, from time totime. The central government ran the administration directly from Islamabad through the Ministry of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs.

How Azad is Azad Kashmir?

The territory of Mirpur & Muzaffarabad has a parliamentary form of government modelled after the Westminster system, with its capital located at Muzaffarabad. The President is the constitutional head of state, while the Prime Minister, supported by a Council of Ministers, is the chief executive. The unicameral Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly elects both the Prime Minister and President. The state has its own Supreme Court and a High Court; Externally Pakistan government take all control of Mirpur & Muzaffarabad through a separate ministry.

Article 21 of the 1974 Interim Constitution Act passed by the 48-member Azad Jammu and Kashmir unicameral assembly in 1974, describing the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, it becomes apparent that the Mirpur & Muzaffarabad PM is  completely subordinated to the PM of Pakistan. The council is chaired by the PM of Pakistan, and its secretariat virtually runs Mirpur & Muzaffarabad from Islamabad. In fact, the secretary of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad may be more powerful than the elected PM of Mirpur & Muzaffarabad. There’s a high court in Mirpur & Muzaffarabad, but an appeal against its decisions lies in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

According to senior political analyst Dr. Hasan Askari“ The Mirpur & Muzaffarabad government is always a dummy and the federal secretary of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs is always more powerful than the prime minister of Mirpur & Muzaffarabad. Whichever party rules in Islamabad, it brings its own government in Muzaffarabad using whatever tactics it can to win the elections. As soon as a new party takes over the federal government in Islamabad, it topples the ruling party in Muzaffarabad and brings in its own outfit”.

Military and police have the actual control in their hands and the local population has been given no fundamental rights. There were large scale human rights violations and people have been living in a constant state of terror and political oppression. The area has also been manipulated economically and most of the natural resources of the area (predominantly hydropower) were diverted towards Punjab and other provinces. According to Asian Development Bank it has the potential to produce nearly 30,000-50,000 MW of energy.

Although, there were elections; but every time the local media and people have alleged large scale rigging in elections at the behest of the Pakistani state. Time and again people have also protested to join the Indian union. And this demand is increasing with every passing day. Pakistan has even failed to maintain the territorial integrity of the region and on March 3, 1963 Pakistan (Sino-Pakistan Frontier Agreement) has illegally ceded (5,180 square kilometres) a part of northern Kashmir to China.

People’s demand for development and employment were addressed by establishing dozens of terrorist camps in bordering areas of Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Chinari, Mirpur, Gilgit, Diamer and various parts of the Neelum Valley. On a number of occasions people have protested against developing it as a hotbed of terrorism.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir is a myth

Azadi or even the imagination of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as an independent entity is a blatant lie and an inconceivable idea. It is a false promise to misguide the Kashmiri youths and manipulate their sentiments for political reasons. Pakistani rulers themselves can never visualize an independent Jammu and Kashmir.

The destiny and development of Jammu and Kashmir is tied with India. Sooner or later the Pakistan and the international community have to accept this reality.

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