Chapter Kashmir is constrained. Pakistan has not officially

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Pakistani Discourse

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2.1
Pakistan Administered Kashmir

 

Pakistani
Administered Kashmir is those regions of the pre-1947 PIS of Kashmir that are
now controlled by the State of Pakistan. It presently consists of two semi-autonomous
territories: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), but they don’t
have parliamentary representation in Pakistan and complementary rights that
other Pakistani provinces are constitutionally enabled. The federal
institutions and leadership of Pakistan have principal influence over executive,
judiciary, security and most important policy matters and foreign affairs in
these two territories.

Politics
in these regions is cautiously regulated to promote the belief that Kashmir
will eventually accede to Pakistan. The Media discourse is controlled by the
Pakistani establishment and the Freedoms of expression and assembly or any
political action that is considered conflicting to Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir
is constrained. Pakistan has not officially incorporated either area, leaving
them as neither a sovereign nor provinces of Pakistan enjoying the federal
constitutional rights and parliamentary representation.

The
AJK and GB citizens are subject to laws that restrict their freedom of
expression, particularly related to the political status of these regions.
Media houses need to take permission from the AJK Council and the federal
Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan to operate. Though a wide
range of media including radio, State broadcast and newspapers in Urdu are
present and active, censorship of political content is commonplace.
Self-censorship is also prevalent as a means of evading state harassment. AJK
and GB have access to the internet with the same restrictions as in
Pakistan. 

Azad
Kashmir and GB do not have representation in the Pakistan Parliament or in the constitutional
bodies that are established for coordination and consultation between the Pakistani
federal government and its provinces, thus limiting its accountability and transparency
with respect to these regions. The Pakistan prime minister, the minister for
Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, and the federal civil service in effect,
exercise maximum control over the government of both the territories. The Federal
intelligence agencies are also positioned in these territories and they have
considerable power over the local elected representatives, press and the
civilian population.

Humanitarian
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are present and are generally able to function
freely but are subject to strict registration requirements. The organisations
focused on religious, political or human rights
face
government intrusion. Extremist groups dedicated mainly to attacks on
Indian-administered J&K operate from AJK and GB and have links with similar
factions based in Pakistan. Domestic tension between pro-Pakistan and
nationalist Kashmiri militant groups is not uncommon.

 

2.1.1
Citizenship and Demography

 

The
citizens of AJK and GB have Pakistani Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs)
and passports. They are recognized internationally as Pakistani Citizens.
However, there passports could be denied or not renewed for citizens who are suspected
of not affirming Pakistani control over the region. Pakistan has also been
reluctant to offer citizenship to migrants displaced from Indian-administered
J&K. They have quota reserved in federal civil services and are registered
voters of the respective province.

 The
share of the Sunni Muslim population in Gilgit-Baltistan has grown significantly
in the years since a pre-1947 rule. The Pakistani State agencies are alleged of
deliberately engineering a change in the demography of this sparsely populated
Shiite-majority region. Under the 2009 GBESGO, the immigrants were given formal
citizenship in GB though the State Subject restrictions on acquiring permanent citizenship
are still in place in AJK and bars outsiders from seeking permanent residency,
allowing only legal residents to own property. The process for establishing
private enterprises is also difficult.

 

2.2 Azad Jammu and Kashmir

 

Azad Jammu and Kashmir or AJK provisional
government was formed by the execution of the Karachi Agreement between the
Government of Pakistan, President of Azad Kashmir and the All
Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference on 28 April 1949. The agreement provided
Pakistan power to exercise control over eight important matters in the region
concerning “defence, negotiations with the UNCIP, foreign policy,
publicity in foreign countries, refugee relief and rehabilitation, provisions
for a plebiscite, all activities within Pakistan with regard to Kashmir and all
affairs of the Gilgit and Ladakh areas”. The final provision effectively made Northern
Areas and AJK as separate entities.

(Source: http://www.ajk.gov.pk/history.php)

Figure 2(a): Map of AJ&K from the Official AJK website

The interim constitution of Azad Kashmir
enacted in 1974, which replaced the more self-autonomy granting 1970 AJK Constitution
Act, gives the provision for an adult-franchise enabled elected unicameral
assembly, a prime minister and a president who is elected by the Azad Kashmir
Legislative assembly. Both the president and the legislature are stipulated to serve
5-year terms. Out of the 49 assembly seats, 41 are filled through direct
elections and 8 are reserved seats (of which 5 are for women and 1 each for
representatives of overseas Kashmiris, technocrats, & religious leaders). (USDOS,
2011)

However, Pakistan continues to exercise
considerable control over the internal structures of government and the electoral
politics. Islamabad’s approval is required for passing legislation or policies and
the Federal Minister for Kashmir affairs oversees decision-making & regulates
the budget. The Azad Kashmir Council is composed of federal officials and
assembly members from Kashmir, and is chaired by the prime minister of
Pakistan, who has substantive executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The
Pakistani military also retains a supervisory role on issues of politics and
governance.

 

2.2.1
Elections for the Legislative Council

 

In
the last elections held for the AJK Legislative Assembly in July 2016, Pakistan’s
ruling party Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) won 31 out of 41 seats and its local
leader was elected the Prime Minister. Other Pakistani based Political parties
that have a base in AJK are Pakistan People’s Party (AJKPPP) & the Pakistan
Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) along with the AJK rooted Muslim Conference, the Jammu
Kashmir Peoples Party and minor independents. There is Political in-fighting between
local and federal parties.

The
election process was reported to be competitive, though the leaders of both the
Pakistan based political parties, PPP and PTI, disputed of pre-election
manipulation and the mismanagement of federal development funds by the PML-N.
It has been historically seen that the party in office at the federal level in
Pakistan ends up forming the local governments in AJK and GB. This transition comes
into effect in the local assemblies through cross voting and party switching in
case of a change in the federal government. This has been noted to be a cause
of incompetence and political corruption.

2.2.2
Link with Terror-related activities and Political Restrictions

 

Claire
Galex, a human rights activist based in Belgium, after visiting both sides of
LOC wrote that the Azad Kashmir government has become an accomplice of the
Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in committing Human
Rights Violation not only in its region but also training youths to fight in
the Kashmir Valley to avenge the “unbearably cruel Hindus who martyr their
Kashmiri brothers’ (Hingorani 2016).  She
also reported that the Pakistani government controls this region through the
Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and maintains strict authority on its day-to-day
activities.

The
1974 interim constitution of AJK puts a ban on political parties that do not pledge
the eventual accession of the territory to Pakistan. Similar rules also prevail
in Gilgit-Baltistan, where nationalist leaders & political parties are not
given access to the political process and public employment if they don’t
declare allegiance to the cause of accession. There have been instances where activists
who are blamed of opposition to Pakistani rule have been subject to harassment,
surveillance and imprisonment.  

AJK
and GB are the liberated territories of the State of Pakistan that is mentioned
under the clause (d) of Article 1(2) of the constitution of Pakistan that
defines the country’s territory, stating that ” such States and
territories as are or may be included in Pakistan, whether by  accession
or otherwise.” A 2011 paper by the Pakistani think tank Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) asserts that both AJK and GB
are territories “otherwise included” in Pakistan under the UNCIP resolutions
and that this position was “implicitly accepted by India through the Ceasefire
Agreement of 1949, the Tashkent Agreement of 1966 and the Simla Agreement of
1972.”

The
paper also states that AJK and GB citizens can get elected in the provincial
assembly as well as parliament of Pakistan, without losing the right to be
elected to the legislative assemblies or the council of their own
administrations. Besides, of almost 5 million people residing in the Pakistan
controlled territories of Kashmir as per the 1998 population census (with the
2017 census showing AJK alone has over 4.45 million), according to 2015 ILO
report on Pakistanis Overseas, almost 6 million people from this region are living
overseas. UK has one of the largest Kashmiri diaspora from AJK who
identify themselves as British Mirpuris whom the Valley Kashmiris there don’t
accept.

2.3
Gilgit Baltistan

 

GB, previously administered directly by
the Pakistani government under the NA Legal Framework Order of 1994, is now ruled
under the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order (GBESGO),
which was enacted on 2009 and officially renamed the Northern Areas as
Gilgit-Baltistan. It set up a representative government and separate judiciary,
legislature, and election commission. The order can be amended only by the
Pakistani Government. The political structure of the region includes

i)                   
a 33-member GB
Legislative Assembly (GBLA) based in Gilgit with the authority to choose a chief minister and pass
legislation on 61 subjects, &

ii)                 
a 15-member
Gilgit-Baltistan Council (GBC), headed by the Pakistani PM and vice-chaired by a
federally appointed governor, that consists of 6 GBLA members and 9 governor-appointed
Pakistani Parliament members.

The GBC which is federally dominated controls strategically
important matters and key fiscal subjects. Also, a majority of high-level and
tactical positions in the local administration are reserved for Pakistani
bureaucrats by the Pakistan enabled GBESGO.

According to the U.S. State Department, just like
how media owners could not publish in Azad Kashmir without prior permission
from the Kashmir Council and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and
Gilgit-Baltistan and are restricted from taking a pro-independence stance, several
dailies and weeklies run in GB, mostly under the aegis of the K-2 publishing
house, and provide some examination of official matters. In last few years
however, authorities as well as non-state actors have been involved in banning
several local newspapers and have detained or otherwise harassed Kashmiri
journalists.

There is a presence of foreign media and aid
organizations that have led to partially openness in reporting contrary to the
tightly controlled information environment. There have also been reports of
restrictions on religious freedom and socio-economic discrimination faced by religious
minorities. Another unreported issue that is of prime cause in GB is the sectarian
strife that continues between Shiite Muslims, who form the majority in
Gilgit-Baltistan, and the growing number of Sunni Muslims, who are tacitly said
to be encouraged by the federal authorities to migrate to the Kashmiri
region. 

2.3.1 GBLA
Elections

 

The
PML-N government in Islamabad, in February 2015, appointed its federal minister
for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan as the governor of GB. This nomination
created some controversy both because the new governor’s did not have ties to
the area and there were also assertions that it was a partisan appointment. The
PML-N procured 15 out of the 24 directly elected seats in the June 2015 elections
held for the GBLA. Other parties, including the earlier governing PPP, did not
win more than two seats.

In
April 2015, the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) elected its six
representatives to the 15-member GB Council. In it, 4 were nominated by the federal
ruling party PML-N. The GBC, which holds control over strategically important
policy matters in GB, is chaired by the Pakistani prime minister and
vice-chaired by a federally appointed governor. It also includes the chief
minister of GB. The residual 6 members are appointed by the Pakistani prime
minister from federal ministers and the Parliament.

 

2.3.2 Provincial
Status by Pakistan

 

The Pakistan government have in recent
years debated on whether GB should be declared a province of Pakistan that has
led to political debates and demonstrations in the region. The supporters for
the resolution maintained that a formalized constitutional status would give the
residents of the region greater access to fundamental and economic rights proclaimed
in the Pakistan constitution and more representation in constitutional bodies
like Council of Common Interest (CCI) and National
Finance Commission of Pakistan.

It could also resolve legal concerns regarding
the Chinese investments in massive transport and energy infrastructure project in
the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through the
India-Pakistan disputed region of GB. But India disagrees with this because the
location of this region, particularly the 1300-km long Trans Karakoram Highway
(KKH), does not only run through the disputed Gilgit region but it is also the only
land route that connects Pakistan with China and the           Central Asian states.

Opponents, chiefly those in AJK, cautioned
that the alteration would erode the disputed status and trust of the larger regions,
i.e., the United Jammu and Kashmir as demarcated in the official Pakistan map,
and justify India’s claims on its share of Kashmir. A few groups here have also
favoured greater autonomy against the areas ambiguous constitutional status or independence
for GB from Pakistani tutelage. Also, making it the fifth province of Pakistan will conflict
the 1948 and subsequent UNSC resolutions on the right to self-determination for
the Kashmiris through plebiscite.

 

2.3.3 Claims by AJK

 

The AJK state government has since formation
avowed to reclaim Gilgit-Baltistan as part of its territory, be it the 1972
resolution passed by the Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly or listing G-B as
being part of Azad Kashmir in the Azad Kashmir Interim Constitution formulated
in 1974. On March 8, 1993, when the Azad Kashmir High Court in its judgement ordered
AJK government in Muzaffarabad to take administrative control of
Gilgit-Baltistan citing no legitimate cause to keep the Northern Areas and its
residents detached from AJK and held that “(a)llowing integration of Northern
Areas to any province of Pakistan would tantamount to negation of Pakistan’s
stance at home and in the Security Council” (Hingorani, 2016), the Azad Kashmir
Supreme Court overturned it in March 14, 1994 due to the limitations of the
Azad Kashmir’s constitutional provisions, even though it upheld the fact that Gilgit-Baltistan
was part of Jammu and Kashmir.

GB is not considered
to be a provincial part of Pakistan according to the Article 1 of the constitution
of Pakistan, which lays down the territorial limits of the country. India
also rejects the provincial elections held here deeming it unconstitutional as
the region is disputed and classifies it as part of POK. The letter by Sartaj
Aziz proposing fifth provincial status to GB states that “A constitutional arrangement has therefore to be devised which does not
make Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan but still guarantees to the
territory the constitutional rights and autonomy … without compromising or
diluting Pakistan’s commitment to the UN Security Council resolutions and
without separating Gilgit-Baltistan from the disputed state of Jammu and
Kashmir”. 

2.4
Pakistan Bureaucracy and Kashmir Policy

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA),
Government of Pakistan, in their official site cite a link on the Human Rights
Violation in IOK, i.e., Indian Occupied Kashmir, in justification of their
clandestine dealings with various militant outfits. The official index of
Kashmir that is not under Pakistan’s control as ‘Indian Occupied’ be it in the
AJK official website or their ostentatious claims of United Jammu and Kashmir is
a strategy for political gains despite of the acceptance in the International
Community and the UN on Kashmir Valley being undisputed region of Indian
Administration (& realization by the Pakistan bureaucracy) of
State-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan.

The International Crisis Group (ICG)
states that due to the Pakistani military and the ISI’s influence over AJK and the
Kashmir policy, both the federal government and the civilian government in Muzaffarabad
don’t yield much authority over the territories. AJK’s political representatives
and elites owe their success in the electoral process not to their ability to
respond to public needs, but to their preferential access to federal funds,
which are then channelled to their own baraderi
(ethnic and kinship groups) and other allies” (ICG, 2010). Pakistan’s civil and
military bureaucracy rewards such complicit agreements by granting privileges in
positions and fund distributions.

 

 

References

 

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