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'Don't Take Away Our Powers': Pak-Occupied J&K Protests Against Plans to Amend Constitution | Exclusive

By: Manoj Gupta

News18.com

Last Updated: August 12, 2022, 17:38 IST

New Delhi, India

PM Shahbaz Sharif has constituted a six-member committee to seek amendments to the interim constitution of PoJK.  (Representational Pic/Reuters File)

PM Shahbaz Sharif has constituted a six-member committee to seek amendments to the interim constitution of PoJK. (Representational Pic/Reuters File)

If approved, the new draft rules will roll back the 13th amendment, which had empowered local lawmakers to take major political and economic decisions without the approval of Islamabad

All 10 districts of the Pakistan-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) are witnessing massive protests and public meetings, strongly objecting to the Pakistan government’s plan to bring in the 15th amendment to fix the Constitutional status of the region of what they call Azad Kashmir.

PoJK is a self-governing state with a President, Prime Minister and official flag. Islamabad controls the region through the Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and an elected body, the Kashmir Council, headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

In June 2018, the 13th amendment gave the PoJK assembly the power to make law and collect taxes, excluding corporate tax, although the power to elect superior court judges in POJK, its Chief Election Commissioner and emergency provisions was left with the Prime Minister of the country.

If approved, the new draft rules will roll back the 13th amendment, which had empowered local lawmakers to take major political and economic decisions without the approval of Islamabad.

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THE LETTER

Reports said that on July 1, a joint secretary in the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad sent a letter to the chief secretary of PoJK, informing that the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif has constituted a six-member committee to seek amendments in the interim Constitution of PoJK.

The letter has asked the PoJK government to nominate its three members to participate in the deliberations.

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According to the PoJK, there is a disparity between the governments and the state of Pakistan. They don’t want financial and administrative powers to be taken away from the local bodies.

THE STIR

On Friday, a bandh has been called at Muzaffarabad’s Gilani Chowk.

The protesters have been asking Pakistan to evacuate its troops.

All roads in the area have been shut.

Meanwhile, Raja Farooq Haider Khan, former Prime Minister of the Azad Government of the State of Jammu & Kashmir in Pakistan, received a grand welcome.

THE ADMINISTRATION

The 15th Amendment will be the 24th attempt to determine the Constitutional status of the region (Azad Kashmir) in the past 75 years.

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PoJK is governed under an interim Constitution, which bars anyone from obtaining a job or to participate in elections unless he or she takes an oath of loyalty to Pakistan and Islam.

PoJK is run by lent officers. They are called ‘lent officers’ because they are sent by Pakistan to the PoJK on deputation to take charge of various administrative and financial sectors.

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One such lent officer is the chief secretary, appointed by Pakistan, who is in charge of the political administration of PoJK.

Similarly, another lent officer is the inspector general of police who controls the police and law and order in PoJK.

The accountant general is also a Pakistani lent officer and controls all financial matters in PoJK. Even the secretary health, who is of Major General rank in the Pakistan army, is a lent officer.

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first published:August 12, 2022, 17:01 IST
last updated:August 12, 2022, 17:38 IST