The face of 'Azad' Kashmir

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Ray, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Much debate goes on about Kashmir on the forum.

    But how many realise what is happening on the other side of the LC?
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Elections in Pakistani colony - Azad Kashmir

    Dr Shabir Choudhry 28 June 2011

    In a parliamentary form of government a party that gets majority forms the next government; and the party leader becomes a Prime Minister. This happens in every democratic and civilised country. However, rules in a Pakistani occupied territory known as Azad Kashmir (independent Kashmir) are different.

    PPP emerged as the winner in the elections. It was expected, as always is the case, a ruling party in Islamabad gets the desired results in Azad Kashmir to suits its needs. Barrister Sultan Mehmood, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir and a leader of the PPP was interviewed by a Pakistani TV. He happily claimed to have got the majority to form the government. The TV journalist asked him who is going to be the Prime Minister. Barrister Sultan Mehmood with a fake smile on his face said: Zardari Sahib will decide who is going to be the Prime Minister’ (of Azad Kashmir).

    People who know how the system works and how posts are awarded, especially the post of the Prime Minister, claim that the man with a big purse will be the Prime Minister. Choudhry Abdul Majid is the President of PPP Azad Kashmir; and should have been asked to form the government. However, that won’t happen, as he is not that rich. Choudhry Yasin and Barrister Sultan Majid are strong candidates for the post of Prime Minister; and insiders claim that Barrister Sultan Mehmood will be the next Prime Minister.

    That sums up the level of azadi or independence this territory and its leaders have. Who is Zardari? He is a man accused of being ten per cent because of many corruption scandals, Surrey Palace, Swiss accounts etc. He has imposed a dictatorship in his own party and has virtually ruined it. Many even accuse this man with murder of his wife as well.

    Oh yes, he is also a President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan – perhaps, ideal candidate for the post according to political standards of Pakistan. As far as I am concerned, Pakistanis can have a Mafia Don as their President, but what right has he got to impose his will on people of Azad Kashmir.

    How unfortunate that in this territory – Azad Kashmir who will be our Assembly Member is decided by ‘Masters’ in Islamabad. These ‘Masters’ are in the form of Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, and other heads of Pakistani parties which dominate the politics of this unfortunate territory. Apart from that, Minister Kashmir Affairs, top four Pakistani officials - Chief Secretary, IG Police, Finance Secretary and Accountant General run and control Azad Kashmir. The final say, as always, is with the secret agencies and Pakistani army General, known as GOC Murree (General Commanding Officer based in Murree).

    As if these checks and restrictions were not enough imperialists in Islamabad ensured that genuine voice of people does not emerge strongly to endanger their interests, so they have inserted a clause in Act 74 (under which this territory is run and controlled) that those who do not sign allegiance to Pakistan could not contest any elections or qualify for a public post.

    Furthermore, all major decisions, including who will get promotions and what projects should be initiated are taken in meetings of Kashmir Council, which is Chaired by Prime Minister of Pakistan and controlled by the Pakistanis who have numerical majority there as well.

    After this brief introduction it is pertinent to discuss the current elections in this independent Kashmir, which does not have any independence apart from the name. It is called Azad Kashmir to fool people of Jammu and Kashmir. It is unfortunate that many people of Azad Kashmir want to live in this fantasy world that they are azad or independent, as this false sense of being azad does not require any action or struggle on their part. Whereas, if they accept that they are not azad then obligation would be to do something about it; and the structure Pakistan has woven around them in the past 63 years is so strong that they cannot get rid off it.

    In the present elections, all candidates of Pakistani parties (mainly PPP, N League, MQM, Jamat e Islami) contesting elections in Azad Kashmir were chosen by heads of these Pakistani parties; and the Azad Kashmiri leadership had no role in that – what a democracy.

    In my considered view and in view of many other experts, the PPP would get 16-17 seats, N League 14-15 seats and Muslim League 8-9 seats; that no party gets a majority and Pakistani establishment can manoeuvre things as suits them. One day before the elections my friend in Pakistan who has some contacts with those who call shots in matters of Azad Kashmir said: it has been decided that PPP will get 20 -21 seats, N League 8-9 and Muslim Conference get 5-6 seats.

    When the election results were out, my prediction was wrong and my friend proved to be more accurate. Now there are allegations that the elections were rigged. But which elections of Azad Kashmir were not rigged? It is interesting that allegations of rigging are coming from leaders of N League and Sardar Atiq Khan who was Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir at the time of elections.

    In one TV interview Sardar Atiq Khan said these are the worst elections of Azad Kashmir with rigging, violence and murders (3 deaths and 20 injured, ballot boxes stolen in some places and returning officer kidnapped). He said leaders from Pakistan (PPP and N League leaders) who came to campaign in Azad Kashmir openly violated elections rules. But was he not the man in charge of so called Azad Kashmir? If he knows he is only a puppet and there are others who call the shots then why not acknowledge that.

    Let us look how elections are managed in Azad Kashmir. The Assembly has total of 49 seats. Elections are held on 41 seats, 29 seats in Azad Kashmir with 12 seats spread over in Pakistan and reserved for Kashmir migrants. These 12 seats are always in hands of those who control Azad Kashmir and ‘reward’ to the parties of their choice. 5 seats are reserved for women and are shared according to party strength in the Assembly – generally 3 goes to the party with majority of seats. 1 seat for Overseas Kashmiris, sold to the highest bidder, 1 seat for technocrats and 1 seat for religious scholars.

    Actual contest takes place on 29 seats in Azad Kashmir. There are many factors which determine the outcome of the elections. By and large, tribal loyalties are still strong and ideology of any kind has very little role in Azad Kashmiri elections. Money, role of the establishment and manpower with influence and guns play an important role in the outcome of elections.

    During the election campaign votes are literally bought, sometimes with cash and sometimes with offer of development projects. For example, a village which has no access to a main road and people have to walk with their luggage and other belongings for transport could be persuaded to vote for a particular candidate in return x amount is paid for the construction of the road. Similarly, people vote for a candidate when they get money – during the campaign - to construct pavements or dig wells or other schemes which governments are supposed to do anyway.

    My contacts tell me that Benazir Bhutto Income Scheme money was spent generously to buy votes in Azad Kashmir. It is claimed that money which was sent for the earthquake victims of Azad Kashmir was diverted and squandered by people in high positions. This money and some other funds, people claim, are now used to buy votes under the banner of BBIS.

    My contacts further tell me that one day before the elections, in targeted seats PPP workers were offering up to 5000 rupees per vote. Some were even providing big sacks of flour and sugar (which is in short supply). In a country where 5000 rupees is a monthly wage for those lucky enough to be employed, it is huge income for a day for a family with 5-6 votes.

    This is state of affairs in Azad Kashmir; and this is how politics works in this part of the world. Despite the above situation people in Pakistan and in some parts of Jammu and Kashmir like to call this territory Azad or independent Kashmir – a model state which the Pakistani elite think should encourage the remaining parts of Jammu and Kashmir to join it; and ultimately merge with Islamic Republic of Pakistan – a country ruled by likes of Zardari.

    Do they think we are stupid? No Sirs, we don’t want to become a part of this rotten society which is corrupt to the core, which is intolerant, which breeds extremism and violence, which is at a war with itself and which has very bleak future.

    Writer is Head Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:[email protected]
    View my blog and web: Dr Shabir Choudhry's blog
    www.k4kashmir.com

    Dr Shabir Choudhry's blog: Elections in Pakistani colony - Azad Kashmir
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Why Azad Kashmir is called Azad?

    Dr Shabir Choudhry 26 April 2010

    United Kashmir Peoples National Party arranged a seminar in London, titled: Challenges, options and role of Kashmiri Diaspora. The Seminar was attended by around 150 people from various walks of life; and addressed by many important leaders among them were pro independent prominent Kashmiris, Pakistani leaders, Pakistani analysts, Baloch and Swiss leaders.

    The topic was important and all the speakers made valuable contribution to enrich the debate, but what caught my attention and attention of many other people was the remarks of Baloch nationalist leader and a former Provincial Minister, Sardar Hyrbayar Mari, son of Sardar Kher Baksh Mari and a brother of Balaj Mari who was killed by the Pakistani forces after the cold blood murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti.

    In his written speech which was carefully delivered by Sardar Hyrbayar Mari, he paid glowing tribute to the struggle of the Kashmiri people which was in many ways similar to the struggle of the Baloch people. He said like Balochistan, Kashmir was also an independent country, but it was soon occupied; and now Kashmir is divided and occupied. He said one part of Kashmir which is occupied by Pakistan is called Azad Kashmir.

    He said: There are hundreds of independent countries in the world, but no country write independent with its name, as it is understood that they are all independent. However with Kashmir Pakistani authorities have included azad (independent), it clearly means there is something wrong – daal main kuch kala hai – something sinister is at play; and they have something to hide. This word is included to fool people of Jammu and Kashmir, just to give them false sense of independence.

    He further said: all oppressed and occupied people should unite and coordinate their activities to fight forces of occupation. We have no other choice, but to fight for our rights and our national independence.

    One can disagree with the kind of politics promoted by Sardar Hyrbayar Mari, but no one can dispute that he is very committed to his cause and is sincere nationalist Baloch leader. Furthermore his observation on Azad Kashmir truly represents the situation in Azad Kashmir. Of course Azad Kashmir is not Azad or independent. It is a ‘colony’ of Pakistan, in which they have established a political set up that is more interested in promoting and protecting national interests of Pakistan than the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

    Those people who become Prime Ministers or Presidents in this set up are not even allowed to travel to other constituent parts of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, for example, no Prime Minister or President of Azad Kashmir is allowed to visit Gilgit Baltistan which is part of the State and which is on the Pakistani side of the LOC. They don’t need a visa or a passport to go there, but they do need NOC (No Objection Certificate) from Pakistani authorities.

    The main complaint the people of Gilgit Baltistan have from the leadership of Azad Kashmir is that they left them at the mercy of the Pakistani agencies and bureaucrats who ruled the territory of Gilgit Baltistan with an iron fist; and denied people of their fundamental human rights. Because of lack of communication and people to people contact, distance between people of Gilgit Baltistan and rest of Jammu and Kashmir, especially Azad Kashmir widened and sense of belonging weakened.

    In independent countries Prime Ministers and Presidents have powers to rule their countries; and they are only accountable to people who elect them; but in Azad Kashmir the rulers have many bosses; and they are not accountable to the people of Azad Kashmir but to the Pakistani bosses.

    Prime Minister of Pakistan is one boss of the Azad Kashmiri leaders, as he is the Chairman of the Kashmir Council which makes all the major decisions related to Azad Kashmir and which could not be challenged by the Azad Kashmir Assembly or any court. It is also interesting that in this Kashmir Council, Pakistanis are in majority and they are not elected or selected by the people of Azad Kashmir. These Pakistanis decide what is good for the people of Azad Kashmir; and subservient Azad Kashmiris leaders happily come back and implement those decisions.

    The other bosses of Azad Kashmiri leaders include the following:
    • Pakistani Minister of Kashmir Affairs and his officials;
    • Chief Secretary of Azad Kashmir who is always a Pakistani;
    • IG Police, who is always a Pakistani;
    • Finance Secretary, who is always a Pakistani;
    • Accountant General, who is always a Pakistani;
    • Inter Services Intelligence, Chief in Azad Kashmir;
    • Military Intelligence, Chief in Azad Kashmir;
    • Intelligence Bureau, Chief in Azad Kashmir;
    • Of course the General Commanding Officer of Pakistan Army based in Murree.

    These helpless and impotent rulers of Azad Kashmir have to declare that they will be loyal to Pakistan; and despite so many bosses and total control over their territory by Pakistan these leaders living in fantasy world think they are Azad. This area – Azad Kashmir is ruled under an act known as Act 74, which was drafted by Minister of Law of Pakistan and rubber stamped by the Azad Kashmir Assembly without any discussion or amendment.

    According to Act 74 the following are responsibility of Pakistan:
    • The defence and security of Azad Jammu&Kashmir;
    • The current coin or the issue of any bills, notes or other paper currency;
    • The external affairs of Azad Jammu and Kashmir including foreign trade
    and foreign aid.

    Apart from that on more than 55 important matters concerning Kashmir, the Azad Kashmir Government has no jurisdiction, and which include the following:
    1) Post and Telegraphs, including Telephones, Wireless Broadcasting
    and other like forms of Communications; Post Office Saving Bank;
    2) Council public services and Council Public Service Commission;
    3) Mineral resources necessary for the generation of nuclear energy;
    4) Aircraft and air navigation; the provision of aerodromes;
    regulation and organisation of air traffic and aerodromes.
    5) Copyright, inventions, designs, trade marks and merchandise marks.
    6) Banking, that is to say, the co-ordination with the Government of
    Pakistan of the conduct of banking business;
    7) The law of insurance and the regulation of the conduct of
    insurance business;
    8) Stock-Exchange and future markets with objects and business not
    confined to Azad Jammu and Kashmir;
    9) Planning for economic co-ordination, including planning and
    co-ordination of scientific and technological research;
    10) Railways; 11)Mineral oil and natural gas; liquids and substances declared by
    law made by the Council to be dangerously inflammable;
    11) Development of industries; 13) Population planning and social welfare; 14)Electricity; 15) State Property in Pakistan; 16) Curriculum, syllabus, planning, policy, centres of excellence and standards of education;
    17) Sanctioning of Cinematography films for exhibition; `18) Tourism; 19) Duties of customs, including export duties; 20) Taxes on income other than agricultural income; 21) Taxes on corporations.

    Addressing the Seminar, Sardar Shaukat Kashmiri, Chairman of UKPNP gave overview of the topic under discussion and explained the challenges faced by the Jammu and Kashmir, and also people of South Asia. He said policies which promote extremism and terrorism must be opposed by those who believe in democracy and liberal and secular society.

    Mohammed Sarwar, Chief Editor of ‘Nation’ London and political analyst said: he loved his country and as a loyal citizen wanted to ensure that there was peace, stability and prosperity in Pakistan. He said Pakistan supported Kashmiri peoples right of self determination and has suffered enormously because of its Kashmir policy. He said Pakistan should make Azad Kashmir a model area that people of Indian side of Kashmir can compare their life with that of people of Azad Kashmir.

    Other speakers included Dr Charles Graves, Secretary General Interfaith International, Councillor Mushtaq Lasharie, Dr Shabir Choudhry, from KNP, Mr Akram Khakwani from PPP, Mehmood Kashmiri from JKNLF, Nawaz majid from KNP, Shamas Rehman from Kashmiri Identity Campaign, Sardar Isahaq Khan from UKPNP Professor Nazir Tabbasum and J Salik from Pakistani Minorities.

    The Seminar was preceded by PNP organisational matters in which its new leadership was elected for Britain. The meeting was presided by newly elected President of the PNP, Sardar Usman Kiani. It was a successful event and all the credit goes to Shaukat Kashmiri and his team.

    Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:[email protected]
    Dr Shabir Choudhry's blog: Why Azad Kashmir is called Azad?
     
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    Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Azad Kashmir - Human Rigths Watch

    Contributed by Editor Sunday, 01 October 2006.

    Tight controls on freedom of expression have been a hallmark of the Pakistani government’s policy in Azad Kashmir. This control is highly selective.

    Militant organizations have had free rein—particularly between 1991 and 2001—to propagate their views and disseminate literature. However, those supportive of independence for a united Kashmir, or otherwise critical of the Pakistani government, have faced continual repression.

    Loyalty oath

    No person in Azad Kashmir can be appointed to any government job, including the judiciary, unless he or she expresses loyalty to the concept of Kashmir accession to Pakistan. The oath of office for the president, prime minister, speaker, member of the legislative assembly or the Azad Kashmir Council also incorporates the following statement: I will remain loyal to the country and the cause of accession of the state of Jammu & Kashmir to Pakistan.”49 (The consequences of not taking the oath for persons seeking political office are discussed below, in Chapter V.)

    Print media and publishing

    The Pakistani government has long limited dissemination of news in Azad Kashmir. There is no locally-based news agency. Azad Kashmir only has one daily newspaper and so people largely rely on local editions of Pakistani newspapers for news and information. The laws governing publications provide a partial explanation for this barren information landscape: in order to publish within the territory, newspapers and periodicals need to be granted permission by the Kashmir Council and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad. These bodies are unlikely to grant permission to any proposed publication likely to be sympathetic to any discourse on Kashmir and its affairs other than that sanctioned by the Pakistani government. In any case, the publisher would have to sign the declaration of support to accession to Pakistan mentioned above.

    Technically, the same rules apply to the publication of books.

    Human Rights Watch spoke extensively to working journalists and writers in the major towns of Azad Kashmir. Members of the press complained of the intrusive and coercive policies of the Azad Kashmir government but particularly of the ISI and the Pakistani military. Almost every journalist interviewed described incidents of coercion, intimidation, threats and occasional violence against the media by the military, its intelligence agencies, and militant groups.

    Consequently, self-censorship has been as endemic as coercion. It is indicative of the climate of fear that pervades Azad Kashmir that while journalists were forthcoming in describing incidents off-the-record, virtually all interviewed by Human Rights Watch requested not to be quoted, even anonymously. Their rationale was that Azad Kashmir was a relatively small territory and they would be easily identifiable through the specifics of the incident described. One journalist explained his reasons to Human Rights Watch in these words:

    You will go away. We have to live and work here. Our families live here. The ISI is very powerful. It is also very unforgiving. The officer who presided over my beating is still serving. Even if he was not, he would inform his successor of the “disciplinary action taken against me and to keep an eye on me. If they dont want to be blamed themselves, they will instruct one of the jihadi groups to teach me a lesson. I know freedom of expression is important but not important enough to die for. At least not to me. Sometimes they just summon you for no reason at all.

    On some flimsy excuse. Someone with a similar name writes something unrelated to Kashmir in some part of Pakistan but the army or the jihadis decide it is you. They also force you to create and kill news according to what suits them. Things are bad. You have heard how bad from many of us. Just dont mention my name, that’s all.50 Waheed Kiyani, a local journalist working for the Reuters news agency, was arbitrarily arrested by the ISI on July 10, 2003, as he was returning from the city of Rawalakot after covering a political meeting. For security reasons, Kiyani was unwilling to talk to Human Rights Watch. However, Human Rights Watch interviewed others including the organizers of the meeting who described what happened. Arif Shahid, chairman of the All Parties Nationalist Alliance (APNA, a conglomerate of nationalist Kashmiri parties) and JKLF secretary general, told us:

    On July 10, 2003, we held a conference titled ‘Kashmir Unity Conference at khaigala where AJK and Gilgit Baltistan leadership was present. About three hundred delegates attended. We offered a form to all delegates. The form gave the options of independence, joining Pakistan or joining India. The answer was two for India, two for Pakistan and the rest for independence.

    Only one international journalist was present—the Reuters correspondent Waheed Kiyani. As soon as he stepped out [of the meeting], he was followed by the ISI and he was arrested at Rawalakot. He told me that they kept him blindfolded and his camera/photos were confiscated and he was taken to the ISI headquarters and torture cell near Rawalakot. We went to Rawalpindi in Pakistan and informed Reuters. Kiyani was released two days later, on July 12. On the same day we attended a seminar in Muzaffarabad. Kiyani covered the event. He was called on stage by General Anwar, the AJK President who told him in full public view to ‘forget it and be grateful you are alive, and offer thanksgiving prayers. In this atmosphere of shameless open coercion, it is no surprise that Kiyani wants to put the incident behind him and is hesitant to talk about it now. This is the reality of press freedoms in AJK. And of course, the rest house where the delegates of the conference were staying was also raided on the same day, July 10. The owner ran away from the scene. The rest house was empty as we had finished and left according to schedule.

    The Azad Kashmir government regularly bans books that it considers to be prejudicial to the ideology of the state accession to Pakistan.

    This includes all books that propagate or discuss the Kashmiri nationalist discourse with its emphasis on independence for a united Kashmir. Arif Shahid, quoted above, is himself the author of four books banned by the authorities. Muhammad Saeed Asad, a self-described Kashmiri nationalist, is the author of numerous books on Kashmiri affairs, and is employed as a social welfare officer in the Azad Kashmir Ministry of Social Welfare and Women Development when he is not under suspension for writing books to which the government objects. In 2002, he was suspended for writing a book on the Mangla Dam (see above) that questioned Pakistan’s right to water sources originating in Kashmir. Pakistan has banned three books written by Saeed Asad for being anti-state and an attempt to promote nationalist feelings amongst Kashmiris.

    These include Shaur-e-Farda, banned in 1996, which comprises letters written by Maqbool Butt to his friends and relatives over a span of two decades (Maqbool Butt, founder of the JKLF, is a
    central figure in the Kashmiri nationalist movement.) Saeed Asad book on the Mangla Dam controversy was banned on November 21, 2002, and a book on the Northern Areas (in the grip of unrest due to lack of rights and, as noted above, claimed by Kashmiri nationalists and India as part of Kashmir), was banned in June 2004. He told Human Rights Watch:

    Please use my name. We are ready to struggle, I am a man of words and so I will remain in the public domain. My books have been banned because they talk of Kashmiri rights and Kashmiri nationalism. I am a Kashmiri nationalist and why should I not be allowed to call myself such?

    I was suspended from my government job for writing on the Mangla Dam issue. The ISI called me upon publication of the book. It was a major in the ISI. He verified that I had compiled the book and had not been forced into writing it. The book represented the views of Kashmiris on Mangla and indicates that Pakistan was exploiting Kashmir for its own gains.Two weeks after publication, I had a three-hour-long meeting with Pakistan Military Intelligence.They told me that this was a sensitive matter and I should not have written about it.The public does not know why you have brought this into the public domain, the officer said. I replied that people had a right to know what Mangla Dam was and who derived advantages from it. It was my national duty, as a Kashmiri, to bring this out. This is precisely your crime,’ the officer said. The meeting had majors from GHQ Rawalpindi and officers from Military Intelligence.You should avoid writing such books. We are placing you under surveillance one said. But, I made it clear to them that I would keep on writing and they could keep on banning my work.

    They keep giving me trouble by stopping pay raises, suspending me from the job periodically and posting me from district to district in order to make life difficult. But, I am determined to keep on writing and to keep on working. The government of Pakistan is willing to fund books and propaganda to the tune of millions of dollars to propagate its own views and stance. Why cant we exert our individual efforts to disagree? They brook no dissent and want total and complete control. The Pakistan government just wants to suppress the Kashmiris. I have been repeatedly offered advancement if I support Pakistan. Endless youth in Kashmir who have masters and professional degrees are unemployed because the government knows they are pro independence.

    This is how the Pakistanis, our so-called friends, treat us. We are at war with India so they persecute us. We are not at war here but they persecute us anyway. Would you like to have such friends? Would you want to live under such rule? No you would not. So why should we?

    The October 8, 2005 earthquake resulted in a considerable weakening of the Pakistani government ability to curb freedom of expression and information in the territory. The influx of international and Pakistani media into the territory in the aftermath of the earthquake was unprecedented. However, for freedom of expression to take root in Azad Kashmir, the external media presence must be systematized into permanent structures such as news bureaus and regional offices.

    Electronic media and telecommunications

    As with the print media, prior to the earthquake the only radio station allowed to operate in the territory was the Azad Kashmir Radio, a subsidiary of the state-controlled Radio Pakistan. Typically, state-run radio and television news programs present news according to priorities of state protocol rather than newsworthiness that is, a news bulletin will begin with the engagements and observations of the president of Pakistan and make its way down the official pecking order to the local level. The influx of and consequent competition from satellite channels has, as yet, not resulted in a change in the news culture of state-controlled media. Subsequent to the earthquake, the government allowed a private FM radio station to broadcast in the territory as long as the broadcast is limited to entertainment.

    (In November 2005, Pakistan government-run electronic media regulatory authority, PEMRA, stopped three local (Pakistani) partners of the BBC from broadcasting two daily thirty-minute earthquake specials” produced by the BBCUrdu service. PEMRA officials, accompanied by dozens of armed policemen, seized equipment from one of the local partners’ Karachi offices and ordered two satellite television partners to stop running news content from the BBC.

    Pakistan information minister declined to comment on the incident when approached by the BBC. Though the “earthquake specials resumed after an outcry by international organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the government of Pakistan appears unwilling to tolerate critical reporting of events in Azad Kashmir not just in the territory, but across Pakistan.)

    Before the earthquake, telephone landlines were limited and strictly monitored in Azad Kashmir and only a limited mobile telephone service was operational. All telecommunications stations were controlled by the Special Communications Organization (SCO), which is a functional unit of the Pakistani army. Subsequent to the earthquake, the Pakistani government allowed private Pakistani mobile phone companies to operate in Azad Kashmir but only after it was pointed out that the loss of life could have been lessened and the rescue effort made easier, particularly in the major cities, had victims buried under rubble been able to use mobile phones as they did in Islamabad and quake-affected areas in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.

    58 Public protest Official repression of freedom of expression is not limited to controls and censorship specific to Kashmiri nationalists and journalists. Pakistani police used lahtis (canes) and rifle butts to break up a peaceful demonstration in Muzaffarabad on November 11, 2005, by approximately two hundred earthquake survivors protesting eviction from their makeshift camp. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that police arrived early at the Jalalabad Garden camp that day and told the quake victims that they had to leave by sunset. Several protestors, including children, were injured as a result of police efforts to break up the demonstration. A Muzaffarabad journalist told Human Rights Watch that when he asked a senior administration official to order the police to stop the violence, the official responded, What else do you expect the police to do? We can hardly tolerate this sort of behavior from these people. If they dont behave they will
    get beaten of course.

    The oath is based on Article7(2) of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act of 1974, and in addition to holding political office or being appointed to a government job, the submission of a signed declaration to the same effect is required in order to publish books or periodicals.

    Human Rights Watch interview with local journalist, Azad Kashmir, July 29, 2005. interview with Arif Shahid, Rawalakot, July 28, 2005. Human Rights Watch interview with Kamila Hyat, Joint Director, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Lahore, September 14, 2006.

    Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act 1974, art. 7(2).The letter of suspension to Saeed Asad is on file with Human Rights Watch. Maqbool Butt is considered a hero by Kashmiri nationalists and the founder of the movement for an independent Kashmir. He was disliked almost equally by India and Pakistan, and viewed as a terrorist by the former and a double agent by the latter. He was hanged on February 11, 1984, in Tihar Jail, New Delhi, age forty-five, and buried there. The complex history of the Northern Areas (NA) is intricately linked to the Kashmir dispute. Since 1947-48, the NA have been administered by Pakistan although they are not legally part of it as they find no mention in the constitution of Pakistan and are neither a province of Pakistan nor an autonomous territory having a constitutional status of its own like Azad Kashmir. Though Pakistan blames the constitutional limbo the NA is in on its unresolved dispute with India over Kashmir, it has chosen to separate the territory from Azad Kashmir. Both Kashmiri nationalists and India disagree with Pakistani policy in this regard.

    Human Rights Watch interview with Saeed Asad, Rawalakot. July 30, 2005
    Dr Shabir Choudhry's blog: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Azad Kashmir - Human Rigths Watch
     
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    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Poor Prime Minister Of Azad Kashmir

    By Dr Shabir Choudhry

    24 May, 2010
    Countercurrents.org

    Raja Frooq Haider is a Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, or ‘Pakistani Occupied Kashmir’. This is the post which all members of the Azad Kashmir Assembly and other politicians wish to occupy. But not every one is ‘lucky’ or ‘suitable’ for this post. Before a politician becomes a candidate for the Assembly in this territory declared as Azad, meaning independent, he has to declare he will be loyal to Pakistan.

    The powers that be ensure that most ‘suitable’ candidate wins his/her seat. When these ‘suitable’ people become members of the Assembly, out of them the one which is more ‘capable’ of protecting interests of Pakistan is selected as the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir.

    Ability, integrity, or experience in politics is not important, as he is generally there as a show piece in the shop of ‘democracy’ because all major decisions are mad by Islamabad or four Pakistanis appointed by them to run this territory. These Pakistani are known as ‘lent officers’ and hold powerful positions of IG Police, Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary and Accountant General.

    In case of the other important post – President, he could be anyone, even a serving Pakistani army officer, as was the case with the former Presidents - Major General Anwar Khan or Brigadier Ayat Khan. Both of these men were serving army officers when it was decided by the Pakistani authorities to retire them and ‘reward’ them with the highest post in their colony- Azad Kashmir.

    The rule that the retired army officer cannot hold a public office for two years after his retirement was waved by Pakistan, after all, it was their army man who was to hold the highest post in Azad Kashmir; and to make way for the army men laws could be changed, twisted or broken because they are the masters of this region – Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

    The Assembly of Azad Kashmir is ‘so good’ that without a question all the ‘honourable’ members of the Assembly signed on the dotted line and accepted the decision of Islamabad; and both army men ruled this territory in their own style and retired from the post honourably. Who says Azad Kashmir is not azad?

    Subservient attitude of the Assembly could be understood from the following example. The Act 74 or Interim Constitution was prepared by Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Minister of Law of Pakistan; and Azad Kashmir Assembly passed that within 45 minutes without questioning anything or changing a comma or a full stop.

    Since the last general elections Raja Frooq Haider is the third Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir; and until some weeks ago his future was uncertain; and there was talk of the fourth Prime Minister during the life of the present Parliament. Tremendous pressure was applied on him to resign, but he refused to budge and decided to fight his corner. There was also talk of government of Pakistan using Article 56 of the Act 74, which was prepared by Pakistani government to keep Azad Kashmir under their thumb.

    Last time Pakistan used this self assigned power was in 1990 against Mumtaz Rathore who was elected Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir; but was soon out of favour with the Army General known as GCO Murree and Minister of Kashmir Affairs. He was arrested and brought to Pakistan by one police inspector of Pakistan.

    But time has changed and government of Pakistan was reluctant to use this power. Despite all the pressure Raja Farooq Haider stood his ground and weathered the storm by agreeing to a compromise over issue of judiciary. But despite this climb down, the powerful people in Islamabad have not totally forgiven him.

    A famous Pakistani journalist Rauf Kalasra in his article published in Daily Jang on 16 May 2010 explained how Azad Kashmiri Prime Minister was deliberately humiliated. He notes with sorrow that (translation from Urdu):

    ‘In a meeting chaired by the Pakistani Prime Minister held in Islamabad to find a solution to judicial crises in Azad Kashmir, Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir was made to sit on the last chair in the row. Raja Farooq Haider has clean record and has no corruption charges of any kind; but Manzoor Wattoo, Minister of Kashmir Affairs was seated next to the Prime Minister of Pakistan with full honour, yet there are many corruption charges against him. Above all this man has made life very difficult for the Kashmiri leader.’

    Rauf Kalasra further said:

    ‘He met Raja Farooq Haider when he was only a member of the Assembly, and found him honest and brave man. He thought if this man became Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir one day, he would not dance on the tune played by Section Officers of Ministry of Kashmir Affairs’.

    According to Rauf Kalasra, ‘Farooq Haider loved Pakistan, but he also loved Kashmir. He loved Kashmiri identity, its culture and history; and wanted to preserve it’. He thought, ‘Ministry of Kashmir Affairs ruled Azad Kashmir from Islamabad just like the British ruled India. Farooq Haider’, he thought, ‘would not take dictation from Section Officers of Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and would go to any lengths to defend rights of Kashmiris.

    Rauf Kalasra said, ‘Prime Minister of Pakistan wants more powers for himself in Pakistan, but he is not prepared to give more and legitimate powers to Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir. Azad Kashmir Chief Secretary Khalid Sultan and IG Police were removed (by Pakistan). Yousaf Gilani Sahib has appointed his friend and business partner Dr Tariq Khokhar from Multan as IG Police in Azad Kashmir and did not even consult the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, because to him advice of Minister of Kashmir Affairs was more important. He (Gilani) has appointed his own administration in Multan, but is not prepared to let the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir have administration of his choice’.

    Rauf Kalasra has explained how Pakistan rulers treat Azad Kashmir and elected Prime Minister of the area. The above transfers were not made to promote good governance, but to control and make the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir helpless and impotent. Raja Farooq Haider was ‘lucky’ at least he was allowed to take the last seat in the row that he could also be present when decision is taken on judicial crises of Azad Kashmir. In the past other Prime Ministers were not given this honour – they were told point blank to follow the orders.

    Raja Farooq Haider has appeared on national TV channels of Pakistan to defend interests of Azad Kashmir. He might not be very articulate or eloquent in his presentation, but he was sincere and courageous. He was the first Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir to demand that the Azad Kashmiri people should be allowed to use water of Mangla Dam, which was built and upraised by uprooting lakhs of Kashmiri people twice.

    While presenting his case and defending interests of Azad Kahsmiri people, he ensured that he did not upset powerful people in Pakistan, therefore, after every few minutes he had to assure the anchor man and his viewers that he was still loyal to Pakistan.

    On 4 May 2010 in a TV programme called ‘Point Blank’ he perhaps thought he had crossed the red line, and soon his tone changed and he said to the Pakistani anchor man: ‘I am more loyal to Pakistan than you are. I am more Pakistani than you are. You are a Pakistani by default, but I am a Pakistani by conviction.’ He said that even though he knew that the constitution of Pakistan did not regard him as a Pakistani.

    He also had courage to demand changes to the Act 74. No Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir had done this. Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, while promoting rights and interests of people of Azad Kashmir has to ensure that he does not annoy powerful people in Pakistan, as all Ministers and Assembly Members wait for his down fall that one of them can become Prime Minister. Those who fail to become Prime Minister at least become rich because of the horse trading which ensues as a result of sacking of the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir.

    I hope Raja Farooq Haider will stand firm and assert his position. Interest of people of Azad Kashmir must be his priority. Azad Kashmir produces far more electricity than we need, and yet we face long hours of load shedding. There are many other serious problems which people of Azad Kashmir face; and it is his prime responsibility to protect their interests.

    Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:[email protected]

    Poor Prime Minister Of Azad Kashmir By Dr Shabir Choudhry
     
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  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Plight of Kashmiri Militants in ‘Azad Kashmir’

    By Dr Shabir Choudhry

    01 November, 2010
    Countercurrents.org

    Story of Kashmiri struggle is a long and tragic story of suffering of human beings on both sides of the forcibly divided State of Jammu and Kashmir. During our study tour of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, I met a ‘leader’ of Kashmiri militants who still live in Azad Kashmir. Before giving details of their plight it is imperative to give short summary to the on going armed struggle.

    They were young, energetic and full of life; but they were frustrated and not satisfied with what life had to offer them. They wanted change; and they were led to believe that the change could only come from a barrel of gun, which did not grow on Kashmiri trees. The gun and training needed to bring about the desired change could only be gained from Azad Kashmir and Pakistan, so they crossed the Line of Control to get guns, training and ammunition that they could fight the Indian forces stationed in Kashmir.

    Between 1989 and 1991 tens of thousands of Kashmiri youths crossed over the Line of Control and went to a land of their dreams – Pakistan, which many of them thought was a place where there was justice, peace and tranquillity. Pakistan, for many of them, was just like a second Makkah, a country established in name of Islam and where, according to them, all was well.

    Many of them thought their Kashmiri brothers living under control of Pakistan were living in heaven; and enjoyed life much better than them. Their dreams were shattered when they crossed over. Many of them lost their lives while walking to land of their dreams. Those who made it across the LOC reached there exhausted and in some cases needed urgent medical help.

    On arrival they were not greeted with flowers. They all had to go through rigorous security checks, interrogation and, at times, humiliation. Many soon got frustrated and went back empty handed. On way back, they either got killed or adapted to new life style in presence of gun culture, oppression, large army, fear and intimidation.

    Their position was similar to that woman who insisted for a divorce, despite husband’s pleas of forgiveness and promises of rectifying the past mistakes. After getting a divorce she got married to a man of her choice, but soon realised that he was not caring and compassionate enough. After a big clash with her new husband, while sobbing she said: oh my former husband, how good you were?

    Tens of thousands of other militants decided to fight their corner and adapt to new life style in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan, as they thought they could not go back because of fear of death and repercussions. Most of these militants were kept in camps; some went to their relatives or friends. Some others got training and were sent back to fight, and either they embraced martyrdom or, in some cases, they abandoned militancy.

    Most of the Muslim Kashmiris living under the Indian rule were, no doubt, staunch supporters of Pakistan, it was Pakistani policies and attitude of Pakistani agencies which transformed them to Kashmiri nationalists. They had seen the Indian rule and obviously they rejected that; and after experiencing the Pakistani policy and their rule in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan and their attitude to Kashmiris and concept of azadi (independence) they became ardent supporters of an independent Kashmir.

    Only those Kashmiri militants who practically became collaborators of Pakistan and helped Pakistan to promote a Pakistani agenda on Kashmir enjoyed their stay in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. These people were lavishly rewarded and promoted as true Kashmiri leaders and representatives of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Families of these chosen few enjoyed life, they travelled to all major cities of the world to promote ‘Kashmiri struggle’ and their children studied in universities in Europe; yet they encouraged others to pay sacrifices for the cause of struggle.

    Of course this is not the full story, as different people faced different situations and their experiences also differ from one another; and it is not practically possible to narrate all these stories. Fact, however is, that the raw material needed to keep the Kashmir pot boiling soon started to run out, as many Kashmiris realised that their sentiments were used in name of azadi to advance a Pakistani agenda, but they didn’t know what to do. They had no options, as life back home was not rosy, as there was oppression, killings and imprisonment. They were between a rock and hard place.

    Those who controlled and planned this ‘azadi struggle’ for Kashmiris got alarmed because of short of supply of Kashmiri raw material required to continue their policy of ‘keep India engaged’ and ‘keep India bleeding’. Nationalism or azadi was not the kind of product which they could sell to recruit warriors from the international market, so this was presented as a ‘Jihad’ in such a way that Muslims from various nationalities were attracted to come to Kashmir to wage ‘jihad’ against India either to embrace martyrdom or to make Kashmir part of ‘Islamic Umma’.

    Thinking Kashmiris soon realised that it was not their struggle; and they were deceived in holy name of ‘jihad’. Their struggle for their identity and independence was made part of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ to deprive the struggle of international support and support of other Kashmiri minorities; and to get the State of Jammu and Kashmiri divided on religious lines.

    Now coming back to the plight of those Kashmiris who remained back in Azad Kashmir, and who went to there to get training and weapons. A man called Mohammed Isahaq Malik phoned me and requested for a meeting. I had four meetings planned for that afternoon, but his desperation and requests for meeting forced me to find some time for him. We met in Roopial Hotel in Mirpur.

    He was from Rajouri, a part of Jammu province on the Indian side of the LOC. Like many others, he also crossed over with his friends in name of azadi and on call of the JKLF to get training and weapons that he could go back and fight India. Mohammed Isahaq Malik who was now President of Mahjareen Council (Council of Migrants) said: they were let down by Pakistan and the JKLF. We were deceived in name of azadi and struggle.

    He said: now we know Pakistan government had its own agenda on Kashmir, but what hurt us more, is the attitude of the JKLF leaders and the government of Azad Kashmir. We fail to understand why they have betrayed us and why they have betrayed the ideology and the movement.

    When he was complaining about the attitude of Amanulla Khan and other JKLF leaders, I asked him if he had met Amanullah Khan and explained the plight of these suffering militants who were away from their homes and their love ones. He said he did, and after listening to their serious humanitarian problems Amanullah Khan said: it is part of the struggle. You have to be patient and accept things as they are. He further said: if I was in a position to help then I would have helped my own people in Gilgit Baltistan.

    Mr Malik said: we can understand these things - suffering and sacrifices in name of struggle. We can be patient because it was our decision to come here and consequently suffer, but how could we explain our young children who have their own needs and dreams. Everything looks rosy and good when you have plenty of food in your stomach, expensive clothes on your body and decent shelter over your head; but slogans of azadi, ideology and struggle look totally irrelevant and unattractive when your children are crying for food and you have no money to pay for their medicine or no money to educate them.

    He told me that thousands of militants of 1990s abandoned militancy and they wish to go back home to be with their parents and other friends and relatives, but they were dumped in these camps which are living hazards for us and our children. We have no means to go back. He said there were around 26,000 militants or families (as these militants got married and started a new life) from Jammu province alone.

    He said: these people were in a desperate need of help and support. All of these people want to go back and want to be with their families. We made a mistake of coming here in 1990, but for how long we have to suffer for that mistake?

    He gave me details of the camps and how many families live in each camp. These camps are spread over in many parts of Azad Kashmir, for example, there is a camp in Poonch with 500 familes; Ambor Camp with 800 families, Kotli camp 303 families, Manak Peer Camp more than 800 families, Bagh Camp 50 families and 200 families in another camp. Each person is paid 1500 per month and at times no money is paid for 4/5 months. How can one survive on this money with soaring prices, he asked me?

    He said: they did not face so many problems in Rajouri. We had some respect there, but here we are humiliated and looked down with hatred and abhorrence. We have a Muslim majority in that area and they were supporters of National Conference of Omar Abdullah. He hoped that Omar abdullah will formulate a policy to get us back that we can return to our homes and start a new life.

    It was really painful listening to plight of these Kashmiris who went across in name of azadi and faced enormous problems; and now wanted to return to their families. I was in no position to help these people, but I promised Mohammed Isahaq Malik to write an article about them and voice their concerns hoping that someone might be in a position to help them.

    Writer is Head Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:[email protected]

    Plight of Kashmiri Militants in ‘Azad Kashmir’ By Dr Shabir Choudhry
     
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  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    In all fairness, I have given all sides of the view as is available.

    In short, all what is happening in Kashmir is not for Azadi, but a programme of Pakistan to make Kashmir a part of Pakistan.

    The situation in this so called 'Azad' Kashmir is horrifying.

    However, the separatists, being well funded, keeps the false dream floating as they make more money than what they would have dreamed making by honest means!
     
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  9. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    What has our govt done to highlight this ?

    How can we expect others to highlight it if we dont do it ourselves.
     
  10. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    all the above posted facts become useless when kashmiris of pak are exempted from tax without compromising their social benefits( dont laugh now. hold it, pak too offers social benefits....).

    pakistani kashmiris are given right to start up business anywhere in pakistan, roam around freely and also not asked to pay taxes. this end up in shadowing of the above mentioned facts. the top leaders of kashmir( pok) are enjoying this ample economic privilege and thats why we dont see kashmiri movt in pakistani occupied kashmir. these very privileges they want in whole of the kashmir( Indian one included) and thats why they support isi and PA in their nefarious designs to annex Indian kashmir.
    this is the same reason that they fund the kashmiri org and lobbyist like fai. and this is the same reason Indian kashmiris are asked to join pakistan to take advantage of these penny economic advantages.
     
  11. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    ^^^^^ Agentperry you are wrong there are huge protests and rallies in Azad Kashmir against failed state pakistan and pakjabi army....search and you will be surprised.
     
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  12. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    sir, do you think that without he popular support of elite(starch) of kashmiri society anything will be worthwhile?

    the elite is on their side and we need them on our side. there are relaxations by the Indian govt to kashmiri business community but then isi uses the islamic card.
     
  13. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Pakistan's existence is itself in doubt right now, what to talk of POK! :lol:
     
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  14. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    well why doesnt indian goi point out this facts in international community or even in jammu &kashmir alteast people of j&ki would know truth of pakistan
     
  15. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Once during the UN meet on the Kashmir issue, our Indian representatives made a point which was a very important one and also a joke. It goes like " Kashmir is named after Maha Rishi Kashyapa and once when Maha rishi Kashyapa was taking bath someone stole his clothes and when Maha Rishi came back he came to know that it was the PAKISTANIS who had stolen his clothes", as this was being said by the Indian representative the pakistani counterpart got up and shouted that pakistanis were not there at that time. Then immediately the INDIAN representative said "This is what we are saying, Kahmir was and is not part of pakistan and it is an integral part of INDIA". The pakistani counterpart did not say a single word and the UN council started laughing. PAKISTAN itself is an integral part of INDIA. Let them shout what ever they want, will join INDIA in the future.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011

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