The leader of the opposition in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly and former prime minister, Raja Farooq Haider, on Tuesday declared the existing interim constitution of AJK, Act 1974, as an icon of slavery for the people of AJK, emphasising the need for introducing amendments immediately.
Haider made the call “to ensure the emergence of a fully empowered government” in Azad Jammu Kashmir, which could run local administrative affairs without hindrance.
“The concept of the establishment of a fully powerful government in AJK was a dream until the interim constitution - Act 1974 - existed in the state,” Haider told a news conference on Tuesday.
Raja Farooq Haider, also head of the PML-N of AJK chapter, declared that AJK could not follow a path of true progress and prosperity with the present constitution in place. He said that under the spirit of the resolutions of United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), the government of Pakistan was primarily responsible for ensuring the establishment of a powerful government in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
“In these circumstances, the government of AJK should be made fully powerful through immediately introducing the requisite amendments in the interim constitution (Act 1974) of the state,” Haider said.
He added that the opposition has already raised the matter on the floor of the house and that the treasury benches would have to respond positively to the demand in the larger interest of the government and the people.
Haider pointed out that a committee comprising lawmakers on both sides of the aisle has already been formed in the state Legislative Assembly to bring about the constitutional reforms through necessary amendments in the interim constitution of AJK.
He alleged that the incumbent rulers of AJK have badly tarnished the identity of the state, citing an example of the sudden removal of the Chairman of AJK’s Accountability Bureau, Hussain Mazher Kaleem, from office by those sitting in the AJK Council, for his “offence” of trying to nab the corrupt mafia sitting in the AJK Council and its subordinate departments.
The opposition leader demanded immediate reinstatement of Justice Kaleem to the office and immediate formation of a judicial commission in AJK to ensure transparent appointment of judges to the AJK High Court against vacant positions.
“The opposition will be forced to launch protest movements across AJK soon after Eidul Fitr if their demands are not met,” Haider said.
Expressing grave concern over the slow-paced process of rehabilitation of Mangla dam victims, the former AJK prime minister urged that due share for the resettlement and rehabilitation of the affectees should immediately be determined from the recent US-sponsored relief funds of $285 million.
About the newly-constructed New Mirpur city meant for the displaced families of Mangla dam victims, he said the deteriorating condition of the city after recent torrential rains was ample proof of the massive corruption and lack of interest within the ruling party.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.
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