Chapter representatives, press and the civilian population. Humanitarian

 

 

 

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, broadcast and print 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 national identity cards and passports.
They are recognized internationally as Pakistani nationals. However, there have
been reports of passports being 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
and several of these refugees have been subjected to abuse and random arrests
for demanding their rights.

 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 pre-1947 restrictions on
acquiring 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,
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, and religious leaders).

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 and the
Federal Minister for Kashmir affairs handles daily administration & 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 also
holds some 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 have been reports of
Political in-fighting in the region.

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 considerable
cause of 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.

 

2.3
Gilgit Baltistan

 

GB, previously administered directly by
the Pakistani government under the 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 introduced a number of administrative, political, and judicial changes and
the order can be amended only by the Government of Pakistani. The political
structure of the regions administration is such that it 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 prime minister and
vice-chaired by a federally appointed governor, that meets in Islamabad.

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 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 representatives.

 

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
Security Council of Pakistan (NSC).

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 combined land of Jammu and Kashmir as demarcated in the official map
of Pakistan, 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 aegis. Also, efforts to re-enact GB as the fifth
province of Pakistan will be against the 1948 UN resolutions that specified the
right to self-determination for the Kashmiris.

 

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.

2.4
Pakistan Bureaucracy and Kashmir Policy

 

It is clearly
explained that GB is not part of Pakistan in term of article-1 of the
constitution of Pakistan, which spell out 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA),
Government of Pakistan, in their 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 control as ‘Indian Occupied’ is a strategy for political gains
despite of the acceptance in the International Community (& realization by
the Pakistan bureaucracy) of State-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. How much of
this is power play and militarily motivated?

The conventional usage of IHK, i.e.,
Indian Held Kashmir, in major English dailies of Pakistan like…

 

References

Snedden, Christopher. 2013. Kashmir: The
Unwritten History. India: HarperCollins.

Behera, Navnita Chadha .2007. Demystifying
Kashmir. India: Pearson Education.

Singh, Priyanka. 2013. Gilgit Baltistan:
Between Hope and Despair. New Delhi: IDSA.

Lodhi,
Maleeha (ed.). 2011. Pakistan: Beyond the
‘Crisis State.’  London: Hurst and
Company.

?aqq?n?,
?usain. 2005. Pakistan: Between Mosque
and Military. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment.

Jha,
Prem Shankar. 2003. Kashmir 1947 – The
Origins of a Dispute. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Devasher,
Tilak. 2016. Pakistan: Courting the Abyss. Noida, UP: Harper Collins India.

Siddiqa-Agha,
Ayesha. 2007. Military Inc.: Inside
Pakistan’s Military Economy. London: Pluto Press.

Hingorani,
Aman M. 2016. Unravelling the Kashmir Knot. US: Sage Publications.

Gilani, Syed Manzoor H. 2008. The
Constitution of Azad Jammu and Kashmir: in the historical backdrop with
corresponding Pakistan, India & occupied Jammu and Kashmir Constitutions.
Islamabad: National Book Foundation.

Tariq Naqash, “AJK: Asking for the moon,” Dawn, August 9, 2015,

https://www.dawn.com/news/1198965

Freedom House
Report. “Freedom in the World 2016”. Accessed on January 13, 2018.

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2016/pakistani-kashmir