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Why Azad Kashmir Is Called Azad?

By Dr Shabir Choudhry

27 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:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com

To view other articles see my blog: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com