On August 7 a so-called All Parties Conference was held in the capital city of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK). It was initiated by the former puppet Prime Minister of PoJK Raja Farooq Haider, allegedly on the behest of the Pakistani deep state.
It should be seen in the light of attempts of political sabotage engineered by Pakistan to quell the on-going mass movement against the draft of proposed 15th constitutional amendment in the current interim constitution of PoJK called the Act of 1974.
The conference was attended, among others, by the present puppet PM of PoJK Tanveer Ilyas. None of the political parties that are playing an instrumental role were invited or participated in the conference. Hence, it was solely an exercise conducted by the pro- Pakistani establishment gang in PoJK who have for the past 75 years facilitated the occupation of our land by the Pakistan Army.
The conference ended with a vague resolution that ambiguously agreed upon not to compromise any monetary or administrative power mentioned in the draft proposal of the 15th amendment. It was followed by a symbolic release of the leader of the Jammu Kashmir National Awami Party (JKNAP) Liaquat Hayat.
However, any attempt to curb the ongoing mass protest movement has only further emboldened it. Every single day protests are being held in various towns and cities by men and women who belong to all sections of our society.
Total wheel jam (General) strikes collectively coordinated by the transporters, lawyers, traders, students, and nationalist political parties are being carried out in parts of Poonch and Muzaffarabad divisions.
Despite being brutally tortured by the state police and paramilitary rangers the resilience of the protesters is praiseworthy. Sharp objects such as blades are being used to make small cuts on the bodies of those arrested and then red chillies are rubbed in the bleeding wound, yet the state has not been successful in breaking the will of the people to fight back.
And this is for a reason. The people of PoJK have suddenly woken up to the fact that the 15th amendment is a noose around the neck of our state from which Pakistan wants to hang whatever is left of our already usurped liberty.
If, and that is a big if, the draft of the proposed 15th constitutional amendment is adopted by the PoJK legislative Assembly then PoJK will not only lose monetary and administrative powers but will in actuality be reduced to a provincial entity without incorporating it into the federation of Pakistan.
Currently, we are not allowed to appoint our own Inspector General of Police, Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary or even our own Accountant General. They all are appointed by Pakistan and are of non-Kashmiri descent and are called Lent Officers.
To add insult to injury, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) who sits in Murree in KPK province controls all political, economic and administrative affairs of PoJK.
Dr Shabbir Chaudhary, a celebrated Kashmiri scholar and author, describes the situation as grave as an existential crisis for the people of PoJK. In his recent analysis of the draft of the proposed 15th amendment, which has been widely circulated among Kashmiri nationalist, Dr Chaudhary reveals the real danger my people are faced with.
The post of President of PoJK will be replaced by a governor and that of the Prime Minister with a chief minister. Furthermore, the word ‘state’ will be removed from the current name of the state and will no longer be considered a part of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Therefore, the semi-autonomous status of PoJK will come to an end and Pakistani citizens will be allowed to buy land in PoJK.
The anthem of ‘Azad’ Kashmir will be replaced with that of the Pakistani national anthem. A dubious body called Kashmir Council will be set up to run the affairs of the territory. Kashmir council will comprise six members from the Assembly of PoJK and seven from Pakistan, including the Chief Executive of Pakistan, Ministers of defence and foreign affairs all of who will be assisted by the lent officers appointed by Pakistan.
The chief justice of the high court as well as other judges plus the Election Commissioner of PoJK will be appointed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Furthermore, the Jammu Kashmir property worth Rs 80 trillion will be managed by the Kashmir Council. This means that Pakistan can sell our state property to meet its own financial needs.
The Kashmir Council will also take away tax collection powers from the legislative assembly of PoJK.
In short, it is time for regional political entities to wake up to stop this gross injustice and stand by my people. After all we are Indian citizens living under the illegal occupation of Pakistan since October 22, 1947.
Meanwhile, as the Pakistan government and her touts in PoJK try to diffuse the mass revolt by political sabotage, the public resistance keeps gaining momentum.
(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK)