Beyond the election in AJK | By Sikandar Noorani 

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Beyond the election in AJK


ELECTIONS in AJK are over and PTI has emerged as a victorious party with sufficient numbers in its basket to form the government.

While celebrating its first ever electoral dominance in the political arena of AJK, PTI should keep the focus precisely set on the situation developing across LoC in the post-5th August scenario.

IIOJK is undergoing a nerve breaking process initiated by Modi regime almost two years back with unilateral change of quasi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.

This illegitimate move surfaced in continuation of decades long oppression and state sponsored terrorism imposed on Kashmiris by New Delhi.

Abhorrent process of atrocities and coercion is gradually taking a fresh momentum amid BJP’s obvious obsession with the agenda of demographic change.

Unilateral conversion of disputed parts in union territories was the first step! Much predictable subsequent steps substantiating the demographic change agenda have been emerging one after the other after 5th August 2019.

A set of controversial laws was imposed on IIOJK against the wishes of Kashmiris primarily to bring non-resident Hindus to Kashmir as legitimate residents with the voting and property ownership rights. Poisonous outcomes of abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A have started surfacing in IIOJK.

Recently, domicile right has been approved for non-resident spouses of Kashmiris women which appears as a major leap on the demographic change agenda.

Kashmiris living under oppression across the LoC always look towards Pakistan especially AJK with great hopes their in eyes.

Provision of right to self-determination to all Kashmiris is the unfinished agenda of partition.

AJK needs to act as the base camp for the rightful struggle of IIOJK. Complex regional situation and irrational coercive manifestation of extremist agenda by Modi regime has turned Kashmir into a major flashpoint.

It is not that India pursuing aggressive agenda only at LoC rather trigger happy decision makers in New Delhi are persistently fuelling the disputes with China at LAC.

No sane mind can delink the Kashmir issue with rapidly emerging developments at regional canvas.

Dispute at LOC and LAC, to a great extent, are gradually transforming from bi-lateral to tri-lateral shape between India, Pakistan and China.

No more secrets lie beneath the surface about US intentions in the region about growing ingress of China.

QUAD alliance poised against China always places India in forefront which makes it easier to comprehend the nature of rising tension at LAC. Recently, India has shifted its Counter Terrorism Division to areas along LAC.

This is in addition to unusual enhanced troop deployment at LAC and massive arms imports including ongoing induction of Raffaele jets.

Besides heavy military build-up at the LAC, a massive military reformation is taking place on account of creating Theatre Commands comprising tri-services under the office of CDS General Bapin Rawat.

New Delhi is pursuing offensive agenda at LAC and LoC with obvious connivance of the US. Flames of this coercive policy can be easily felt all over Pakistan in the form of intermittent terrorist acts and hateful propaganda campaigns targeting vital state interests.

Future ruling party of AJK, the PTI, should be absolutely clear in its assimilation that political setups in Kashmir and the GB are in the cross hairs of New Delhi.

A targeted social media campaign was sponsored by Indian Disinfo outlets to discredit the elections of AJK.

By doing such propaganda gimmickries, New Delhi intends to shroud its coercive meddling in IIOJK.

Recently, Modi held a so-called APC with political leadership of IIOJK which had no representation from dissident quarters especially imprisoned Hurriyat leaders.

This engineered APC was a trap laid to legitimize the abrogation of statehood with upcoming delimitation of constituencies for future election drama.

Future AJK government needs to take a full stock of situation shaping up in IIOJK with its all strings attached to regional rifts.

As far as Kashmir issue is concerned, all political parties, state institutions and governments in Islamabad as well as in Muzaffarabad should be on one page.

Despite a disappointing bitter election campaign by political parties, loaded with exaggerated allegations, finally signs of a stable AJK government are now obvious. Credit of this positive development surely goes to the decision makers of PTI who made right choices in awarding the party tickets.

Reportedly, PTI’s Advisory Council for Kashmir elections headed by Syed Noman Shah played a key role in laying the foundation for maiden electoral victory in AJK.

Advisory Council comprising members Omer Farooq, Air Marshal (R) Ateeb Siddiqui, Colonel (R) Ubaid-ur-Rahman Malik and Hameed Pothi displayed tremendous political wisdom in forming a winning combination for tough electoral battle.

Syed Noman Shah being the architect of electoral victory not only broke the two party status quo in AJK but also provided a solid base for a politically stable government capable enough of meeting the bigger challenges emerging from IIOJK! Brilliance and acumen displayed by the team led by Syed Noman Shah must be carried forward to deal with the complex challenges waiting ahead for upcoming AJK elections. Muzaffarabad capital needs to act as “Base Camp” for Kashmir freedom movement.

It is now time for AJK government to think beyond the victory of elections with a greater cause in sight.

—The writer, a retired army officer, is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.

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