MUZAFFARABAD DIARY:Nationalists demand right to contest polls

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MUZAFFARABAD: Leaders from a number of political parties of Pakistan controlled Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Sunday called for enabling nationalist parties to contest elections in the state by repealing laws that require them to sign an affidavit of allegiance to “the ideology of the state’s accession to Pakistan”.

They were speaking at a multi-party conference on “Election of AJK Assembly under Act 1974 and the Rights of People of AJK”, organised by the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP) and the Awami Workers Party (AWP), here on Sunday.

Representatives of various nationalist parties of the AJK emphasised the need for doing away with the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act, 1974, and electing a constituent assembly to make an independent constitution for the state.

Sub-section II of Section VII of the act says, “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the state’s accession to Pakistan.”

They said nationalist parties had been barred from the political process under this clause.

They also denounced what they called undue interference by Islamabad in matters of the state through the AJK Council and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs.

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation League President Justice (retd) Abdul Majeed Malik said the 1974 Act, also called the interim constitution, was an insult to the word constitution.

“Constitution is always framed by a constituent assembly and the AJK has never had a constituent assembly,” he said.

Constitutional expert and AWP President Abid Hasan Manto said the 1974 Act was not an independent constitution.

He said though he and his party accepted the UNSC resolution on Kashmir, it had become ineffective.

“If a person is eligible to vote, he should also be eligible to contest elections. The situation is different now from what it was in 1974. There should be elections for a constituent assembly,” said Chaudhry Muneer of PPP Shaheed Bhutto.

Sardar Khalid Ibrahim of Jammu Kashmir People’s Party said all parties should be part of the election process and advised them to sign the affidavit and come to the assemblies. He also said that the section in question was not imposed from outside, rather the legislative assembly passed it.

Sardar Abdur Raziq of Muslim Conference said the 1974 act was framed after consultation of all parties in the AJK.    

 

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