MIRPUR: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan Monday said that the 13th amendment to the AJK’s Interim Constitution Act, 1974, is a landmark achievement and reflects the popular demand and aspirations of the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The president expressed these views while addressing the inaugural session of the seminar on Constitutional Reforms 2018, organised by the Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) at its main campus.
Masood Khan said that the 13th Amendment is a meaningful step towards empowering the state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Legislative Assembly and the executive headed by the prime minister. He added that the crux of the amendment is that it has rectified existence of two parallel administrative and financial authorities – the AJK government and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council.
“This amendment is an evolutionary process in constitutional reforms and does not compromise the strong bond between Pakistan and Kashmir,” Masood said, adding that Azad Kashmir’s political parties, encompassing the entire spectrum, have been campaigning for and working on AJK Council’s constitutional reform and, at many points, had agreed on a median of the content of these reforms.
The president said that despite the amendment’s passage being widely applauded in Azad Kashmir, some critics, including legists and opposition parties, have raised questions and made suggestions for improvement. “Dissent is good in democracies and should be welcomed,” he said.
President Masood Khan said that this amendment has been crafted in a manner by which the basic spirit of the constitution has not been tinkered with. Unlike the Indian Constitution, which has massively encroached on the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, this amendment does not in any way affect Pakistan’s stance or that of the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the Kashmir dispute.
He denounced the recent attempts of the Indian government for revoking Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution in order to pave the way for changing the demography of the Indian Occupied Kashmir, a move which is against the basic rights of the people living in an occupied territory.