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Friday, 17 June 2011

Undemocratic and Unrepresentative Elections in Pakistan Administered Kashmir

A brief background:
For almost sixty four years people of the forcibly divided state of Jammu and Kashmir, commonly referred to as Kashmir), have struggled to obtain their fundamental right for a free and democratic vote! 
Kashmiris since 1947 have seized upon every available opportunity to resist the status quo, and they have campaigned for reunification and a sovereign status for their homeland which remains forcibly divided between India and Pakistan.
Kashmir state comprises of a number of regions; however at present it comprises of three regions – namely the Indian occupied part of Kashmir, the AJK region controlled by Pakistan and the region of Gilgit Baltistan, unilaterally declared as a province of Pakistan by the current Pakistani government   since it came to power in 2008. 
In Indian occupied part of the state the assembly elections take place within the Indian constitution. This process disenfranchises those political opinion which does  not recognise Kashmir as part of India, hence the  popular  movement for self determination since 1988,  which is being violently suppressed by Indian forces resulting in the deaths of  around  one hundred thousand  Kashmiri civilians.
 In Gilgit Baltistan region, recently declared as a province of Pakistan, only the Pakistani political parties are allowed to contest the assembly election, while the governor is appointed by Islamabad as representative of the Pakistani state.
Assembly Elections in Azad Jammu Kashmir-AJK 2011
Azad Jammu Kashmir-AJK- assembly elections- which purport to be a democratic expression of  not only  3 million  residents  of AJK , but also elect  members for constituencies  that   since 1947 are within the Indian occupied part of the state- take place under the 1974 Act.
 The 1974 Act or The Azad Jammu Kashmir Interim Constitution Act 1974 was given to AJK by the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974.
 The 1974 Act requires   a candidate wishing to contest elections for the AJK assembly to swear an oath of allegiance to the “cause of accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan”, (S) 21 (6) and (S) 23 (1) - The 1974 Act.
This requirement of the 1974 Interim AJK Act is a clear contradiction and contravention of the basic political, inherent and inalienable right of the people ofKashmir for an unfettered choice to have a democratic and representative government.
While the struggle for reunification and self determination in relation to the entire forcibly divided state of Kashmir continues, we demand that the undemocratic 1974 Interim Act imposed on people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, is rescinded and replaced with a transparent and  democratic constitution that fully accommodates, along with the cause of accession of Kashmir to either Pakistan or India,   to enfranchisement of  political forces that  advocate the cause of an independent and sovereign status  for a reunified state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Otherwise the elections process in AJK, schedule to take place on 26 June 2011 will once again be sham election process and mere futile effort in the name of democracy and the people of the region. Such a sham process  will not only  further disenfranchise and alienate the people  but will also be a sad betrayal of the immense sacrifices that they and their forefathers have rendered to the cause of freedom and justice in Kashmir and in particular  the development of Azad Jammu  and Kashmir.
We therefore seek your support for the democratic rights of all Kashmir people, and in the interim a representative system of governance   for the people of AJK- which is fully compatible with internationally recognised democratic norms and principles.

NOTE: This brief note of AJK elections is circulated to Parliamentarians, the press and media, diplomats, political and human rights activists today on 15th June 2011 during a press conference held at the Whittle Room, Broadway House, London.

For further details and clarifications please contact:
Prof. Zafar Khan (Head, JKLF Diplomatic Committee)
Cllr Mahmood Hussain (President, JKLF UK Zone)
Syed Tehseen Gilani (General Secretary, JKLF UK Zone)

________________________________________
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)
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