Monday, 26 April 2010

Role of Kashmiri leaders

Role of Kashmiri leaders 20 April 2010

Text of Dr Shabir Choudhry’s speech for a Conference organised by International Forum for Justice and Human Rights Forum Jammu and Kashmir at 11 AM on April 21, 2010 at Hotel, Taj Lal Chock, Srinagar.

Mr Chairman, friends, colleagues and honourable Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabeer Ahmad Shah, Mohmmad Yaseen Malik, Advocate Mian Abdul Quyoom, Mohatrama Asiya Andrabi and others aslamo alaykam.

I am grateful to International Forum for Justice and Human Rights Forum and Eng. Mehmood for providing this opportunity to speak to this august gathering on a topic which is extremely important to people of Jammu and Kashmir and our struggle.

It was my wish to be physically present in this important conference, interact with the people, and learn more about the situation there. However, due to short notice, and problems encountered to air industry by the Iceland volcano eruption it was not possible for me to be physically present in this important Conference. I hope that the organisers of this conference will read my short message to the audience.

Title of this conference is very interesting: “THE ROLE OF PRO-FREEDOM LEADERS VIS-À-VIS KASHMIR ISSUE”.

But before we go any further we need to establish what we mean by ‘pro freedom leaders’? Does it mean leaders who promote freedom? But what kind of freedom we have in mind? Do we mean freedom to hold certain views, freedom to travel, freedom to assemble and freedom to preach etc? Or are we confusing the term ‘freedom’ with independence.

What we need is not freedom, but independence. We want right of self determination and not right of accession with another country. We need to be clear in our political terms and ideologies. It is the job of the leaders to ensure that they don’t confuse the masses. They must have clear vision. They must know what they want to achieve; and how they should achieve it.

The role of leaders is to lead, but not in to difficulties and problems. Their duty is to lead people to clearly defined and set out destination; a destination, which can bring peace, dignity and honour to the Kashmiri nation, and which can enhance our national identity and sense of belonging.

Those who lead people to misery and quandary could not be called leaders. They could be called opportunists and collaborators. The role of leaders is to boost morale of the people. The job of leaders is to protect life, liberty, honour and property of the people; and not to test their patience and promote their politics while people are suffering.

You have right to disagree with me, but in my opinion, the last leader we people of Jammu and Kashmir had was Sheikh Abdullah. As a human being he also made some mistakes, but he was the tallest leader Kashmiris ever had; and enjoyed support of all sections and regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is sad that we don’t have any leader in todays Jammu and Kashmir. Instead of a leader we have many regional, tribal, sectarian and religious leaders, each having its small area of influence and its own small undemocratic and autocratic party.

It is bad luck of the nation that some of these leaders and parties are not promoting interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They do not promote unity and Kashmiri culture of tolerance and coexistence. They seem to be more interested in either promoting interests of our neighbours or interests of their parties, regions and sects.

Some of these leaders pursue this kind of politics not because it is in the interest of the people or supports the Kashmiri freedom struggle, but because it advances their personal agenda. Moreover they get rewards for doing this from certain quarters, as these policies divide people and make the struggle and the people of Jammu and Kashmir weaker.

The policies these leaders advance do not unite people of Jammu and Kashmir; rather they divide them on ethnic, regional and religious lines. These policies might suit some leaders or certain groups and neighbours of Jammu and Kashmir, but certainly do not suit people of Jammu and Kashmir. These policies divide people of Jammu and Kashmir. They weaken our struggle. They antagonise communities and help those who want to divide our motherland on communal or regional lines.

I am sure those who regard themselves as leaders would not like what I have stated. They will be angry with me, but they should know that in public life people are accountable for their actions. Apart from that someone need to tell them that their policies are wrong; and their strategies are out of step with requirement of the Kashmiri struggle.

They also need to have appraisal of their policies and politics they promote. Why is that after more than two decades of the struggle, and enormous sacrifices we are no nearer to our most cherished goal of independence. Why is it that despite tens of thousands of deaths of Kashmiri people the Kashmiri struggle is seen in the context of India and Pakistan? Why is it that the Kashmir dispute is to be resolved by India and Pakistan; and people of Jammu and Kashmir or their leaders are not part of any negotiations?

Does it not prove that there is something wrong with the strategy in operation since 1947? Does it not show, to outside world that the dispute is between India and Pakistan?

We have to present our struggle as a struggle of people of Jammu and Kashmir – a struggle which is for unfettered right of self determination; and not to join Pakistan. We have to tell the world that it is not a religious struggle or struggle of one region. By making it a struggle to join Pakistan we may get some favours from Pakistan, but we are harming the interests of the Kashmiri nation. We are excluding non Muslims and some regions from our struggle and paving the way for division of the State on religious or ethnic lines.

South Asia still has not recovered from the wounds of religious divisions which took place in 1947; and by advancing another division on religious lines we are not doing any favour to the Kashmiri nation or people of South Asia.

Furthermore, when this impression is given that people of Kashmir are giving all these sacrifices to join Pakistan, the international community laugh at our wisdom. Which Pakistan people of Kashmir want to join, they question? Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan is no longer there, and the remaining Pakistan is going through a civil war and is in deep crises.

Does it show our political maturity or naivety when we say that we want to be part of this Pakistan? Nations and ethnic groups fight to preserve their traditions, their history their identity and their culture; and what will happen to our identity and culture when and if we join Pakistan?

Apart from that these leaders appear to be leaders of some sections of the Muslim community in the Valley, as not all Muslims support them. So question is what is their credibility? When and how did they establish their credibility? Having a demonstration against India does not prove their credentials, as that is resentment of people against India and against what they have endured for many years.

Also it was the same people who defied their calls to boycott the last elections and used their votes in large numbers to demonstrate that these leaders were out of touch with changing mood of the people and their requirements. So a big demonstration or a strike action does not establish leadership credentials.

All these respected leaders have to sincerely analyse their policies and make a new strategy which should include how to reach out to all regions of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is for them to decide if they want to limit their influence to some towns of the Valley and make it a Valley centric struggle or reach out to the people of other regions and try to win their confidence.

They need to speak out that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is occupied and appropriate strategy needs to be formulated to fight this occupation. A strategy which is perhaps appropriate for conditions in the Valley, might not be appropriate in Gilgit Baltistan which is occupied by Pakistan.

Among the leaders sitting here include those who I have known for many years. I hope that they won’t be annoyed by observations I have made very sincerely. I wish you all the best with this conference, and sincerely hope that the leaders present here will be able to formulate a policy which will be suitable to our struggle for unification and independence of the State.

Dr Shabir Choudhry
A leader of Kashmir National Party, writer, author and political analyst.

Why Azad Kashmir is called Azad?

Why Azad Kashmir is called Azad?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 26 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

To view other articles see my blog:

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Gilgit Baltistan debated in House of Lords

Gilgit Baltistan debated in House of Lords
Dr Shabir Choudhry 17 April 2010

Baroness Emma Nicholson has done it again. Once again she has successfully arranged very valuable conference to promote the fundamental rights of people of Gilgit Balatistan.

She won minds and hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in general, and the people of Gilgit Baltistan in particular when she, as an EU Rapporteur on Kashmir, authored an EU Kashmir Report. Despite fierce opposition from Pakistani government, their allies and supporters the report was passed by overwhelming majority by the EU Parliament in May 2007. There were 524 votes in favour of the report and only 09 against it.

The report raised hopes of people of Jammu and Kashmir, and especially hopes and morale of people of Gilgit Baltistan who were denied of basic human rights since 1947. This report generated tremendous pressure on the government of Pakistan to provide fundamental rights to the people of Gilgit Baltistan.

Prior to the passing of this very valuable report EU countries did not have a common policy on Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Each country pursued a policy on this matter in line with their national interest, and in accordance with their relationship with India and Pakistan; and people of Jammu and Kashmir and their fundamental rights and their interests were not always their priority.

After the passing of this report the EU countries had a common policy which they all helped to formulate. The EU has a strategic partnership with India and they also have good relations with Pakistan. Since most Pakistani policies, including the foreign policy is India centric; it was no longer possible for the government of Pakistan to ignore this report which was passed by powerful European Parliament.

Result of this pressure was a New Package known as ‘Gilgit – Baltistan (Empowerment and Self Governance) Order 2009’. Like the previous Packages, the New Package was also imposed on the people of Gilgit Baltistan, because in line with their policy about their colony – Gilgit Baltistan, the Pakistani government did not feel any need to consult anyone from the region. They did not even consult their appointed Chief Executive or Northern Areas Legislative Assembly.

As these areas were not legally part of Pakistan – a fact acknowledged by their Supreme Court and their constitution, hence any action taken by the Pakistani government could not be ‘legal’ either. What right have they got to appoint a Pakistani citizen as a Governor of these areas? Only purpose was to annex the territory, step by step, by holding a drama of elections.

And now that they have a puppet Assembly and a puppet Chief Minister they could embark on stage two of their plan to annex these areas by giving the impression that it was done legally; and that it was the wish of the people. True Kashmiri nationalists and sons of the soil feared this all along and opposed this New Package, as it was old wine in new bottles.

Kashmir National Party with help of a leader of Shafqat Inquilabi, a leader of Balawaristan National Front filed a case against this Ordinance and in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This had a ripple affect on the politics of the area and also politics of the Pakistani Administered Kashmir. The media and some political circles called a daring move and gave it a wider coverage.

Some political activists, however, argued that there should have been a wider consultation before filing the case. In our opinion it was not feasible, as Pakistani agencies could have been alerted by moles in the political parties and the agencies could have blocked the move. Now that the case is registered in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, no one stops others to file another case; or support the existing one.

Baroness Emma Nicholson has always taken a lead in promotion of rights of the underprivileged and less fortunate people. She does not give - in to pressure and intimidation, or hesitate to challenge those in power and promote politics of hatred and blackmailing. Despite storm of protests and pressure managed by government of Pakistan, their agencies and their puppets, she stood like a rock and persuaded overwhelming majority of the Members of the European Parliament to support the cause she was promoting.

However, many thought that she would not stick her neck out again to promote the fundamental rights of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Once again she proved them wrong. After hearing about this challenge to Gilgit Baltistan Ordinance in Supreme Court of Pakistan, she had a meeting with me and expressed her desire to have a conference on the subject in the House of Lords.

I was very pleased with this. I knew she will make a good job of this as well, because she had very dedicated and loyal staff with great experience in organising conferences at that level. The Conference, indeed, turned out to be a big success; and written feedback provided by the audience confirmed that.

Baroness Emma Nicholson chaired the Conference, provided an introduction at the start, and a summary at the end. There were three main speakers, namely Dr Shabir Choudhry, Mohammed Sarwar and Abdul Hamid Khan. Dr Shabir Choudhry, as an expert on the topic established the legal and constitutional status of these areas, provided background to the Ordinance and rational for challenging the case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Mohammed Sarwar, a Pakistani Citizen and Chief Editor of ‘Nation’, while acknowledging the past mistakes of respective Pakistani governments, appreciated positive steps taken by the present civilian government of Pakistan; and urged people to give more time to the government to fully implement their policies.

Abdul Hamid Khan, as a local man from the area and as a Chairman of Balawaristan National Front, explained the level of deprivation and resentment; and how secret agencies of Pakistan promoted sectarianism, extremism, regionalism and hatred. He said this Ordinance was not designed to empower people but to take away power from them and deprive them of fundamental rights.

Other Kashmiri leaders like Abbas Butt, Nadeem Aslam, Mehmood Kashmiri, Shams Rehman, Professor Nazir Tabassum, Afzal Tahir, Krishna Bhan, Najib Afsar and Usman Kiani made valuable contribution to the debate from the floor.

Apart from some other members of House of Lords, there were diplomats from some countries which included diplomats of India and Pakistan. Pakistan was represented by His Excellency Deputy High Commissioner Mr Asif Durrani; and India was represented by Mr Raveesh Kumar, Political Counsellor.

It is quite normal for the Pakistani officials and diplomats to turn up unprepared, but Mr Asif Durrani surprised many, as he was well prepared for this Conference and had a number of typed pages to support the case of government of Pakistan.

It appeared that the Indian diplomat, Raveesh Kumar on the other hand only came there to show his presence, and felt obliged to speak after rather impressive intervention by His Excellency Asif Durrani. As a result of lack of preparedness, Raveesh Kumar was less impressive; however, he reiterated the stand of India as Kashmir being an ‘integral part’ of India.

However there was some contradiction in Asif Durrani’s statement. He said Gilgit Baltistan was not legally part of Pakistan, but for practical purposes it was a province of Pakistan. Also he said Pakistan respected the UN resolutions on Kashmir and implemented them. Apart from that he questioned the rationale of this conference when the case was in the Supreme Court.

Baroness Emma Nicholson explained that the British Parliament was a sovereign Parliament and its Members could debate any topic which is of interest to them. I, Dr Shabir Choudhry, on the other hand challenged stands of both India and Pakistan by saying that the accession to India was provisional and had to be ratified by the people. Also that Pakistan did not implement the UN Resolutions; and despite lofty claims about fighting terrorising and controlling militants going across the LOC, still actively promoted militancy and jihad in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Conference was followed by a Press Conference inside the House of Lords which was addressed by Baroness Emma Nicholson, Dr Shabir Choudhry, Mohammed Sarwar and Abdul Hamid Khan.

We hope after the general elections, Baroness Emma Nicholson will continue with her mission of promoting democratic rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir; and also continue her ‘jihad’ against forces of violence, extremism hatred.

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

To view other articles see my blog:

Thursday, 8 April 2010

AJK Judicial crises - real story

AJK Judicial crises - real story
Dr Shabir Choudhry 09 April 2010

Chief Justice Choudhry Riaz Akhtar may not be the right person to be Chief Justice of Pakistani Administered Kashmir; he may be corrupt too, but is he the only public office holder who is alleged to be corrupt in AJK and in Pakistan. If he is corrupt and inappropriate person for this post then responsibility lies with those who appointed him.

The present Muslim Conference government is after blood of Chief Justice Choudhry Riaz Akhtar, yet it was the Muslim Conference government which appointed him the Chief Justice even though he was junior to Justice Manzoor Gilani.

He was acceptable to them at that time because he, as an Election Commissioner, helped them to win elections in 2006. The Muslim Conference government of the time thought it appropriate to reward him by giving him the top post in the AJK judiciary.

If he was dishonest the ruling party knew that; and many think it was because of this ‘qualification’ he was made an Election Commissioner. The seniority issue also did not concern the Muslim Conference governments as Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar enjoyed his position until he was ‘unconstitutionally’ removed two weeks ago. So what has gone so wrong that the Muslim Conference government is out with knives to hunt Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar?

The Prime Minister of AJK was so angry that on one live TV show he accused Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar of ‘sedition’. The anchor of the programme asked him again on this serious allegation, and again he repeated his allegation and said without being emotional on the issue he thought Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar has committed ‘treachery’.

What treachery did the Chief Justice Choudhry Riaz Akhtar commit? Did he have some secret contacts with India or did he sell some state secrets to enemy country? Answer to the above is he has not done that.

Justice Gilani was not happy that his junior had superseded him and protested against this injustice, but afterwards accepted the de facto change and worked under the new Chief Justice, and the matter was conceived as settled. Then all of sudden Justice Manzoor Gilani after more than 3 years decided to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Question here is what role, if any, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has in matters of Azad Kashmir, which is not part of Pakistan?

Legally and constitutionally Azad Kashmir is not part of Pakistan. Azad Kashmir has its own administrative structure with its own President, its own Prime Minister, its own flag, its own national anthem and its own Supreme Court. And ‘treachery’ of the Chief Justice is to state that fact loudly, which was not liked by those who control this territory as their colony.

On issue of Justice Manzoor Gilani’s appeal to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar questioned the role of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and said they have no right to take a decision related to ‘another country’, which technically Azad Kashmir is.

I am not suggesting that the Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar has become a ‘Kashmiri nationalist’, because anyone with little bit of Kashmiri nationalism would not be allowed to rise up to this status or walk in to corridors of power. However his remarks have upset the Pakistani establishment; and they are the ones who calls shots in the politics of Azad Kashmir.

It is now becoming increasingly clear that a conspiracy was hatched by agencies and the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir was forced to become their tool to ‘illegally dismiss’ the Chief Justice of Azad Kashmir. With regard to dismissal of judges, the constitution of Azad Kashmir says:

‘A Judge of Supreme Court or of the High Court shall not be removed from office except as provided by this section’. Section 42 E.3

Section 4: If on information received from the Supreme Judicial Council or from any other source, the Chairman of the AJK Council or the President is of the opinion that a judge of the Supreme Court or of the High Court: (A) may be incapable of properly performing the duties of his office by reason of physical or mental incapacity; or (B) may have been guilty of misconduct, the Chairman or the President as the case may be, shall direct the Supreme Judicial Council to inquire in to this matter.’

No one disputes the fact that a Chief Justice or any other Judge could be removed from his office on charges of misconduct or mental incapacity, but for that, proper procedures have to be followed. Perhaps the establishment of Pakistan and government of Azad Kashmir did not trust the President of Azad Kashmir Raja Zulqarnain; and they wanted to strike when he was on a visit to the United Kingdom.

In his absence, the Speaker of the Assembly becomes an Acting President and could exercise the same powers. Now the flaws in the conspiracy drama become too visible. The Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir went to see the Acting President at 11.40 and spoke to him about charges against the incumbent Chief Justice; and at 11.44 the Acting President forwarded the case to the Supreme Judicial Council with 12 pages charge sheet.

This timing is not denied by the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir in his TV appearance. No human being can listen to the charges of misconduct against the incumbent Chief Justice and prepare a charge sheet in 4 minutes. It is clear that the case was already prepared and they wanted to strike before the President returns to Azad Kashmir.

The law says if the Supreme Judicial Council after investigation is of the opinion that the judge ‘should be removed from the office’ then the ‘Chairman (of Supreme Judicial Council) shall advice the President to remove the judge from his office and the President shall pass orders accordingly’.

However the Supreme Judicial Council should consist of the incumbent Chief Justice, who becomes Chairman of this institution, Chief Justice of High Court and the senior judge of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Judicial Council must not consist of those judges who have serious conflict of interest. After illegal dismissal of the Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar, the present Supreme Judicial Council consist of his rival Justice Gilani and his appointed ad hoc Judge and another Judge.

So one can see there is a clear conflict of interest in this case, and it is complete mockery of the judicial system in Azad Kashmir. However, if the Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar is due to retire in June 2010, then question arises what was the purpose of this drama? If his alleged ‘corruption’ and other ‘misconduct’ was tolerated for so many years then why disgrace him this way now.

Is it that his remarks regarding the role of the Supreme Court of Pakistan have annoyed powerful people? Or are the regional and tribal rivalries back in action? Both the President and the Prime Minister belong to the same clan – Rajpoot but they belong to different regions. The Prime Minister comes from Muzaffarabad and the President from Bhimber.

Hitherto Muzaffarabad had lions share of power in AJK, and Bhimber had less influence in politics of the AJK. However Raja Zulqarnain himself is very decent person and very influential; and he is not the kind of person who will back out on matters of principle. Despite that I urge restraint and request them to reach some compromise because open involvement of Pakistan will make matters worse.

Moreover Justice Gilani should withdraw his case from the Pakistani Supreme Court, as this would gradually erode away whatever little independence we have in Azad Kashmir.

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

To view other articles see my blog:

Gilgit Baltistan past, present and future

Gilgit Baltistan past present and future

Presentation by Dr Shabir Choudhry in a Debate on Gilgit Baltistan arranged by Baroness Emma Nicholson in House of Lords on 7 April 2010.

In name of Allah I begin.

Madam Chair, friends and colleagues Aslamo alaykam and good morning.


Indeed it is an honour to be here and make a presentation on a topic of Gilgit Baltistan. But before I start my presentation I want to thank Baroness Emma Nicholson and her staff for vigorously working to promote rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir, and especially for the rights of people of Gilgit Baltistan.

Whatever little rights have been given to people of Gilgit Baltistan in Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009, we feel that is because of the pressure generated by the EU Kashmir Report which was passed by overwhelming majority by the EU Parliament in 2007. Baroness Emma Nicholson authored that report and played a key role in getting it through all stages in the EU Parliament.

Location of Gilgit Baltistan

Areas of Gilgit Baltistan are approximately 72,496 square kilometres; and are strategically very important and full of natural resources. This is where South, Central and East Asia converge. It is at the crossroads of three great civilizations and was traditionally a gateway for both India and China to Central Asia and beyond, in to the heart of Europe. This is old trading route known as the Silk Route which contributed enormously to the wealth of so many countries and brought different civilizations closer to each other.

With time strategic importance of these areas has increased. Apart from India and Pakistan, other countries like China, Afghanistan, Central Asian States, Iran, Russia and America also have keen interest in these areas.

Constitutional status of Gilgit Baltistan

Constitutionally and historically areas of Gilgit Baltistan are part of former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. The State, as we know, is disputed and its future is yet to be determined by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

This pre partition map of South Asia shows the State of Jammu and Kashmir at the top, and areas of Gilgit Baltistan are shown as part of Kashmir.

Map of Indian Sub Continent after the partition
Even in this map of the region clearly shows the area of Gilgit Baltistan as part of Pakistan.

These maps clearly show that areas of Gilgit Baltistan are part of State of Jammu and Kashmir


Present day division of Jammu and Kashmir

Map of Jammu Kashmir

Map of Gilgit Baltistan

Apart from these maps the UN Resolutions on Kashmir clearly show that areas of Gilgit Baltistan are part of the State.

Karachi Agreement

Furthermore the Karachi Agreement of 28 April 1949 (which was signed by Nawab Mushtaq Gurmani a Minister of Pakistan and the ‘President’ of ‘Azad Kashmir’, Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, and President of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas), a copy which is distributed to you, clearly shows that these areas are part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan China Agreement

Also Pakistan signed an agreement with Republic of China on 2 March 1963, in which Pakistan gifted away around 2200 square miles of our territory to China which helped them to start a new era of friendship. In article 6 of this agreement Pakistan acknowledged that the sovereignty of the region did not rest with Pakistan. The agreement reads and I quote:

‘The two parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned will reopen negotiations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the boundary as described in Article Two of the present agreement, so as to sign a formal boundary treaty to replace the present agreement, provided that in the event of the sovereign authority being Pakistan, the provisions of the present agreement and of the aforesaid protocol shall be maintained in the formal boundary treaty to be signed between the People’s Republic of China and Pakistan.’ Unquote

UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948
1. As, the presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops from that State.
2. The Government of Pakistan will use its best endeavour to secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting.
3. Pending a final solution, the Territory evacuated by the Pakistani troops will be administered by the local authorities under the surveillance of the commission.
The areas of Gilgit Baltistan are split in to five districts:
and Ghanche.
Ethnic Groups
About 2 million inhabits live in these vast areas and the ethnic groups are:
Ladakhis and
These people speak the following languages:
Pushto and Urdu.
The sect-wise breakdown of population in the Northern Areas is:
45 % Shia
40 % Sunni
15 % Ismailia


85 % Shia
10 % Sunni
5 % Noorbakhshi

Diamer (Including Dare Tangir)

100 % Sunni


75 % Sunni
25 % Shia


50 % Shia
50% Ismaila

Ghizer (Punial,Gopis,Ishkoman,Yasin)

85 % Ismailia


85 % Noorbakhshi
10 % Sunni
5 % Shia

Struggle is not religious
The above religious divide is important for people to understand, as some people want to present the struggle as a religious one; and they want to impose a decision in name of the religion.
In my view it is a recipe for a division of the State on communal lines, which will be disastrous for the entire region.
Supreme Court of Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued various judgements regarding areas of Gilgit Baltistan. I will mention only two here.
• During the hearing of the Indian plane (Ganga) hijacking case started in 1971 and ended on 17 May, 1973, the Attorney General of Pakistan admitted before the Supreme Court of Pakistan that: “No given part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir can decide on its own, to join either Pakistan or India”.
• The Supreme Court of Pakistan in Habib Wahab al-Khairi case on May 28, 1999, ordered the government of Pakistan: that Northern Areas were constitutional part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The government of Pakistan should ensure that basic human rights and other political and administrative institutions are provided in the areas within six months. However, the action should not adversely affect Pakistan’s stand concerning the Kashmir dispute.
Preamble to Constitution of Pakistan 1973 says:
‘Therein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality;
Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes;
Wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured;
Wherein the integrity of the territories of the Federation, its independence and all its rights, including its sovereign rights on land, sea and air, shall be safeguarded;’
All that is good on paper, as we know what rights and protections are available to people of Pakistan, people of Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani Administered Kashmir. Also we know government of Pakistan has great experience in avoid implementation of Court orders.

Gilgit Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009.

On 9th September, 2009 the government of Pakistan issued a new Package for Gilgit Baltistran. In line with its past practise regarding Gilgit Baltistan, the government of Pakistan did not feel important to consult anyone from this area. They did not even consult their appointed Chief Executive or any other member of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly.

Many people of the area feel in name of ‘empowering people’ the government of Pakistan wants to annex these areas, just like they annexed state of Chitral. Chitral is now part of Malakand Division which is part of Pakistan, just like Swat and Dir.

However in 1878 the Ruler of Chitral known as Mahtar had acknowledged the suzerainty of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, and through him to the British Crown. Thus Chitral was legally part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; and government of Pakistan did not show Chitral as part of Pakistan in the Constitutions of 1956 or in 1962. But in the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan declared Chitral as one of its territory.

We oppose this ordinance because:

• This act of Pakistan is in clear violation of its obligations under the UNCIP Resolutions;

• It is against Pakistan’s previous stand on Jammu and Kashmir;

• It is against previous decisions of Pakistani Supreme Court;

• It is against Pakistan’s bilateral agreements with India according to which no country can unilaterally change status of any part of Jammu and Kashmir;

• It is against article 257 of Constitution of Pakistan, which reads:

Article 257 of Constitution of Pakistan

When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and the State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State.

We fear Pakistani government:

Could do same to Gilgit Baltistan what they did to Chitral;

And in this regard some suggestions have been made to government of Pakistan by Basil Nabi Malik in his article:

‘The Constitutional Dilemma of the Northern Areas of Pakistan, and I quote:

1. ‘Pakistan could resolve this constitutional dilemma….by giving the Northern Areas representation in the National Assembly and in the Constitution, subject to alterations upon the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute

2. Unilaterally accepting the Northern Areas as the fifth province of Pakistan by including a sentence stating that “the Northern Areas shall be the fifth province of Pakistan for administrative purposes, until the complete resolution of the Kashmir dispute”,

3. On the basis of this (right of self determination) Pakistan may initiate a referendum in the Northern Areas in order to ascertain whether they would prefer to exist as a region of Kashmir or as a separate autonomous region’. Unquote

4. We fear that Pakistan can ask its puppet assembly in Gilgit Baltistan to declare accession of these areas with Pakistan or hold a referendum and manipulate the outcome.

Challenge to Gilgit Baltistan Ordinance

In view of the above and many other reasons we thought to challenge Ordinance on Gilgit Baltistan in Supreme Court of Pakistan. For this Kashmir National Party in ----consultation with our ally in the area, Shafqat Inquilabi, a leader of the Balawaristan National Front filed a case, a copy of which has been circulated to you.

The case has been filed and we are waiting for the Supreme Court to constitute a bench to hear the case. We understand judiciary in Pakistan is independent; and we hope that they will provide fair hearing to this case and provide justice to more than two million inhabitants of the area.

Policy of intimidation

 We also hope that the Supreme Court will be able to provide protection to Shafqat Inquilabi who is subject to intimidation and harassment ever since he filed this case.

 We fear for his life and for safety and well being of his family.

 I hope human rights organisations and the international community will help us to get our fundamental rights and right of self determination.

Madam Chair and respected audience I thank you for your patience.