PoJK: All ships must sail in the same direction

Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi, the chief patron of Sunni Ulema Council of Pakistan, visited Pakistan Occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) on August 17.

On the occasion, he said that his organisation wants to impose the system of Khilafat-e-Rashida, a system of governance that was imposed on the Islamic world after the death of prophet Muhammed in 632 AD.

On the same day the Prime Minister of PoJK, Tanveer Ilyas, announced that he had advised his government to set up the Rehmat ullil Alameen Authority in PoJK.

This is not the first time that Pakistan and the puppet ruling elite of PoJK have collaborated in their endeavor to keep the population of PoJK intoxicated with Islamic demagogic rhetoric.

It is a skill they have learned and mastered from their colonial rulers. And it is not new to the polity of Kashmir. At the round table conference held in London back in 1931 the defiance of the Maharaja of Jammu Kashmir Hari Singh that was manifested in his speech given in London which made it clear to the British that Singh was not going to budge from his demand that the British quit India.

It was after the defiant speech made by the Maharaja at the London round table conference that the British began patronising and sending Islamic fundamentalist mullahs to the valley to instill hate and discontent among the Muslim population of the state of Jammu and Kashmir against a ‘Hindu’ Maharaja. This maneuver finally culminated in the engineered communal riots of July 1932.

Fast forward and today we are witnessing an anti-Pakistan and more importantly an anti-Pak-army sentiment running through the political narrative across PoJK. This is the result of the stubbornness demonstrated by the state of Pakistan in meeting the economic and political demands of those who have practically become a nation of prisoners of war.

The protests in PoJK that began with a single demand against load shedding have now developed into a full scale rebellion. Despite several attempts made by the government of Pakistan to pacify the population of PoJK, the protests have not subsided.

Today, the demands include reversal of extra added fuel tax charges on electricity bills, building of safety walls on roads, end of cuts on subsidies and more importantly against the draft proposal of 15th amendment that would eventually reduce the status of PoJK to that of a mere province of Pakistan without having to officially merge it into the federation of Pakistan.

Pakistan sent Qamar Zaman Qahira, Advisor on Kashmir Affairs to the PM, to Muzaffarabad who then held a press conference assuring that there will be no attempt by the state of Pakistan to deprive PoJK assembly of any administrative or monetary powers. It did not help to pacify the protesting crowds.

On August 7, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader and former puppet Prime Minister of PoJK, Raja Farooq Haider, chaired an All Parties Conference in Muzaffarabad. It was allegedly attended by 19 political parties. The sitting Prime Minister of PoJK Tanveer Ilyas was also in attendance.

In a joint declaration it was unanimously agreed that any attempt to disempower PoJK assembly will not be acceptable. However, people did not buy this and the protest grew in strength culminating in a general strike in Muzaffarabad division which spread from the border of Pakistan in Kohala to Chakothi on the Line of Control bordering Indian Jammu and Kashmir.

Having failed to curb the mass rebellion Pakistan has now resort to manipulation of my people in the name of Islam. Nevertheless, the momentum of the protest movement is so overwhelming that on August 18 the PoJK assembly had to withdraw a bill that was asking the members of the house to vote on a local bodies election amendment.

Local bodies election are due to be held after 31 years on September 28 this year. It is the demand of the members of the PoJK assembly to postpone them further.

The reason is simple. Local bodies elections empower the people at grass root level. But more importantly it will deprive the members of the PoJK legislative assembly of the lucrative money they are handed in the name of development fund.

Currently, PoJK is at a political boiling point yet liberation from Pakistani occupations seems a distant cry. Why? In my opinion it is because there are too many people wrapped up in the political agenda dictated by their vested interest. They have lost common sense.

The nationalists dream of the state that Maharaja Gulab Singh had put together in March 1886 after the defeat of the Sikh Empire at the hands of the East India Company.

The democrats seek the revival of the status of Jammu and Kashmir state as it was on August 12 1947 and the protestors demand more powers for their so-called legislative assembly.

We tend to forget that on October 26 1947, the Maharaja of the state of Jammu and Kashmir signed an instrument of accession with India that made us an integral part of the Republic of India in the same way that 565 other princely states were made at the time.

Our future is linked with that of the rest of Jammu Kashmir and Laddakh and not with Pakistan which is our occupier. Unless all political parties revert to using common sense and sail their ship in the same direction salvation will never come.

The problem is that they are all wrapped up in their political agenda that serves the vested interests of certain power groups.

Unless my people are able to disassociate themselves with such entities that propagate a devious political narrative based on two-nation theory and Islam, and unwrap themselves from the political agendas of vested interest groups, freedom cannot be achieved.

In order to correct the mistakes of the past all ships must sail in the same direction which can only be the direction that promises our reunion with the Republic of India. When this will happen only time will tell.

(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from PoJK in Mirpur. He currently lives in exile in the UK.)

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