Protests have erupted in cities across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) over a demand to abolish the Azad Kashmir Kashmir Council headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
They have demanded constitutional amendments in an interim act - 1974 of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to ensure full empowerment of the elected government of PoK through the transfer of all powers of the Kashmir Council to the government.
Ishtiyaq Ahmad, Leader, UKPNP, Muzaffarabad, said, "We believe that Kashmir Council is a clear divide between Pakistan and PoK. The people of Kashmir feel that Pakistan has been ruling over Kashmiris through the Kashmir Council. It necessarily needs to be abolished because 52 departments in PoK come under the Kashmir Council, which is headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. After it gets abolished, the power will come to PoK government. PoK resources will directly be used for the benefit of the local residents. The demand to abolish the Kashmir Council is praiseworthy. The people of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan support Azad Kashmir's demand to abolish the Kashmir Council."
The protests have intensified after the Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider Khan said that PoK was not going to become a province of Pakistan. Rather, his government wants the Kashmir Council to be abolished.
The PoK has its own elected President, Prime Minister, Legislative Assembly and the Supreme Court, but important matters, including the budget and tax affairs, are dealt with by the Kashmir Council.
Adnan, Advocate, Supreme Court, PoK, said, "We demand that besides holding agitation, the need is to practically implement the demand of abolishing the Kashmir Council. All rights to be directly given to the government of Azad Kashmir, so that people gets empowered, Azad Kashmir government gets empowered. The Kashmir Council needs to be abolished urgently.
Sardar Karam Dad Khan, Advocate, Supreme Court, PoK, said, "This institution (Kashmir Council) was created with the tax collected from the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. But, this institution is neither answerable to Azad Kashmir assembly not to Pakistan assembly. Even the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is not able to audit this department. We had a demand from Azad Kashmir government and PML (N) government to abolish this institution."
Pakistan has misruled the region for more than seven decades. There is a Prime Minister and President in PoK, but they are merely stooges who have been helping Islamabad fill its treasuries through economic depredations.
The people of the region have been denied basic fundamental rights and are meted out with severe brutality if they demand it.