Pakistan slams India’s ‘sham’ statement on Azad Kashmir polls

MUZAFFARABAD, PAKISTAN - JULY 25: A view of a street during General Elections of Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir on July 17, 2021. ( Chudary Naseer - Anadolu Agency )

Islamabad reiterates Jammu and Kashmir is international dispute awaiting final disposition under UNSC resolutions

ANKARA (AA) – Pakistan on Friday slammed what it called India’s “sham protest” regarding local legislative assembly elections in Pakistan-administered Kashmir that concluded last Sunday with victory of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

“The Indian Charge d’Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey Pakistan’s complete rejection of India’s sham protest and to reiterate Pakistan’s clear and consistent position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” a statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said.

A day earlier, India had said: “The so-called elections in Indian territory, under illegal occupation of Pakistan, are nothing but an attempt to camouflage its illegal occupation and the material changes undertaken by it in these territories.”

“Pakistan categorically rejects the false, untenable and self-serving comments,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said.

Last Sunday, over half of the total 3.2 million voters cast their ballots to elect the 53-member legislative assembly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, also known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir, for a five-year term.

The vote was held for 45 general seats, while the remaining eight will be divided among the political parties on the basis of their victory ratio on general seats.

A party requires 27 seats to form the government with a simple majority. The PTI bagged 26 seats which allows it to form the government on its own.

However, India claimed: “Pakistan has no locus standi on these Indian territories.”

“India cannot hide the fact that it is in illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir. To perpetuate its occupation of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK), India has committed horrendous human rights violations against innocent Kashmiris over the past seven decades, and particularly since Aug. 5, 2019,” said Islamabad.

The ministry said the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir “enjoy the fruits of free and participatory electoral process, while the IIOJK bleeds under India’s illegal occupation.”

The Jammu and Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India has been on the agenda of the UN Security Council since 1948.

“It remains an internationally recognized dispute, as affirmed by the relevant Security Council resolutions,” the ministry added.

“India has reneged on commitments made over the years in numerous official communications to the Security Council, to Pakistan, to other states, and to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to abide by and implement the UN Security Council’s resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement said.

The Security Council, said Pakistan, has clearly delineated the principle that the “final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.”

“India must immediately end its illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir, stop its egregious violations of the human rights in IIOJK, and take steps for immediate and full implementation of the UNSC resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” it added.

Parliamentary system of governance

Following the division of Jammu and Kashmir into Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Indian-administered Kashmir in 1947, the AJK was governed under the presidential form of government.

In 1975, then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced the parliamentary system for the region.

This first government headed by Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party was dismissed in 1977 due to the imposition of martial law in Pakistan by then-Army Chief Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. There were no elections until 1985.

The Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir is held by Pakistan and India in parts and claimed both in full. A small sliver of land is also held by China.

India revoked autonomy and divided the part under its control into two centrally-administered territories on Aug. 5, 2019 after putting nearly eight million people under curfew and cutting down their communication with the world.

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