March 2004 News

Trouble In Azad Kashmir

2 March 2004
The Daily Times

Islamabad: If something goes wrong in Azad Kashmir it tends to embarrass us more than if it happens in any of the provinces. In Muzaffarabad, the Muslim Conference government is falling apart because the party has more larger-than-life leaders than it can contain within its fold. 'Prime minister' Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan is being undermined by intra-party conspiracies unleashed by its president, Sardar Atique, whose father, Sardar Qayyum - now a grey eminence behind the scenes - is also pulling the strings. The majority in parliament is delinking itself from the prime minister and his ministers are submitting their resignations to Sardar Qayyum. The malaise is well known in Pakistan. Prime minister Sardar Sikandar is not 'doing the work' of his ministers who are now bent upon getting rid of him. Pakistan showcases Azad Kashmir as a contrast to India's Held Kashmir. When the corrupt politicians start their shenanigans and destabilise the territory, the world starts wondering if Azad Kashmir is any different from the Indian side of it. Already the constitution of Azad Kashmir vests the sovereignty of the mini-state-in-waiting, not in the Muzaffarabad parliament, but in the Kashmir Affairs ministry in Islamabad and the prime minister of Pakistan. The latest crisis has arisen within the ruling party and the two factions have gone and sought arbitration, not from the president of Azad Kashmir, who is a retired general, but from the general-officer-commanding of 12 Division in Murree who is in charge of the defence of Azad Kashmir. The GOC was told by the offended ministers that their 'prime minister' was no longer treating them as ministers and was publicly ridiculing them regarding their competence. We all know that Sardar Atique is an aggressive and ambitious man. The fact that he has not referred the matter to the president of Azad Kashmir clearly means that he wants to force Islamabad to get rid of Sardar Sikandar in short order. The sooner this brewing trouble is tackled, the better.


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