The election in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir
Elections are organized to be held in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) tomorrow. The PoK Assembly has 53 seats, comprising four that were added in 2019. Around 700 candidates are in the fight, and there are approximately 20 lakh voters.
PoK, which Pakistanis named as “Azad Jammu & Kashmir” (“AJK” in short), appeared into existing after the 1949 ceasefire between India and Pakistan after the Kashmir war, and contains the portions of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that were acquired by the Pakistani forces.
Pakistan’s constitutional responsibility on PoK is that it is not a portion of the country, but the “liberated” part of Kashmir. The constitution of Pakistan registers the country’s four provinces — Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
However, Article 1 of the constitution, which lists out the territories of Pakistan, moreover has a provision for “such States and territories as or probably contained in Pakistan, whether by accession or otherwise”.
The one immediate consideration to Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan’s constitution is in Article 257, which proclaims: “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.”
In effect, central rule
The territory of PoK contains 10 districts under three divisions — Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, and Poonch. The capital is Muzaffarabad.
While PoK is apparently a sovereign, self-governing territory, the Pakistan Army is the ultimate justice on all consequences of Kashmir — and the security association exercises tight command over what gets on in PoK. At the height of the militancy in the Kashmir Valley, several of the training camps for militants were tracked down in PoK.
The PoK constitution has a clear ultimatum against individuals or political parties propagating “against or indulging in activities prejudicial to the philosophy of the state’s gain to Pakistan”. An Assembly member brings on disqualification for performing this, and candidates have to validate an affidavit declaring a commitment to Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan.
For all practical objectives, PoK is driven by the Pakistan government through the all-powerful Kashmir Council, a nominated 14-member crew led by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Six members are appointed by the Pakistan government and eight are from the PoK Assembly and government, involving the “prime minister” of “Azad Kashmir”.