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AJK opposes giving provincial status to GB

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MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed warned the federal government on Wednesday against any attempt to convert Gilgit-Baltistan into a province of Pakistan.

“Gilgit-Baltistan is part and parcel of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Any attempt to merge it into Pakistan will deal a fatal blow to our stand in the light of UN resolutions envisaging right to self-determination for the Kashmiris,” he said at a press conference here.

Of late, some Kashmiri leaders have expressed concern over alleged moves to convert GB into the fifth province of Pakistan. On Tuesday, AJK President Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob Khan warned that such a step would be more damaging than the dismemberment of the country in 1971.

“I call upon the prime minister of Pakistan to avoid (taking) any decision that does not fall in his jurisdiction. He cannot take this decision unless we, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, take it,” Mr Majeed said.

Recalling that GB had been given in the administrative control of Pakistan on a temporary basis, he advised the federal government not to think beyond that.

“On behalf of over 17.5 million Kashmiris, I warn you (Islamabad) to change your thoughts. Or else, there will be severe reaction,” he said.

Answering a question, he said it was the responsibility of the AJK parliamentary committee to seek consent of the prime minister of Pakistan and the minister for Kashmir affairs in order to carry out constitutional amendments “smoothly and amicably”.

He said he had asked the committee’s chairman, Matloob Inqilabi, and Leader of the Opposition in the AJK Legislative Assembly, Raja Farooq Haider, to talk to the federal government in this regard.

Mr Majeed said the role and responsibilities of the government of Pakistan under the UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan) resolutions should not be negated. “With this in mind, there is no harm in talking to them,” he said.

Mr Majeed admitted that excessive loadshedding in AJK was a serious issue.

He said Minister for Power Khawaja Asif had agreed to his suggestion that AJK should be allocated its quota of electricity….

Kashmiri PM stops work on Kohala hydroelectric project until signing of agreements

“However, that’s yet to happen and we will have to talk to the federal government once again on this issue… The loadshedding issue has to be resolved because we cannot afford it,” he said.

With a visible sense of helplessness, he repeatedly said that AJK should be exempted from loadshedding.

The AJK premier also disclosed that he had stopped work on the proposed Kohala hydroelectric project.

“No official can step in that area unless they resolve the Mangla water use charge issue and sign agreements on (the under-construction) Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project (NJHP) and (the proposed) Kohala project and clear our liabilities,” he said.

“They did try to change my opinion but I have refused,” he added, in an apparent reference to the federal government.

Mr Majeed said the NJHP had been initiated before he had taken over as premier and his predecessors should have signed the agreement about it.

He said the road infrastructure in AJK was also badly suffering because of these power projects and the issue needed to be addressed by the Water and Power Development Authority.

He said that AJK’s voter lists were more than four decades old and had to be prepared afresh to hold fair and transparent general elections.

Regarding the appointment of the AJK chief election commissioner, he said it was the prerogative of the president.

He said the recruitment process for policemen had been cancelled because of complaints about its transparency.

“We will now ask the national testing service to conduct recruitment for us,” he said.

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