Political Pluralism In AJK Grows More Competitive
22 August 2005
Islamabad: The Kashmiri political pluralism already under tense ideological stress is going to face yet another conservative challenge within a week when Pakistan-grown MMA (Majlis-e-Amal) will entrench itself in AJK political body. Because of generally conservative outlook of AJK the MMA may find a fertile ground there but it would not be able to exploit this 'fertility' to its fullest growth. Generally it is acceptable to the common conscience of the masses there. But strategically the available political clime of AJK is not well-knit. The existing political loyalties of the territory are based not on any 'commendable' principles. Politics in AJK, as elsewhere in the country, is run purely on tribal basis and clannish competitions; sometimes so scathing that even the long-term interests of the future get crudely sacrificed. In this scenario the emergence of MMA can garner at the most the strength of the silent streams of AJK masses who consider themselves shut up from reaching the podium of elected houses - AJK Assembly plus AJK Council. This is the reason that politics in AJK (and for that matter in IHK also) is considered 'a monopolised politically-tight compartment' having no windows for new comers to peep out pluralistically. It is unfortunate that Kashmir issue, since its birth, stayed as a position-exploitable by almost all the political parties in the country from Kashmir down to Quetta. Whenever a political party wishes to beat down the chairs in power the issue of Kashmir is brought forward as a sacrificial ram. This game is going on unabated for the past six decades with calculated ruthlessness. The party or economic failures are often dumped into the dustbin of cheap 'Kashmir barter slogan'. It is popularly believed that once MMA digs into the AJK scene the propaganda on Kashmir issue will enter a new hype. The hype platform will be easier in AJK to make sharp criticism shots at top political management of the country back in Islamabad. How far this stratagem works depends on the counter strategy. Who will devise this counter to repulse the MMA's political gun shots. Obviously the ruling Muslim League will perforce have to face the MMA music. But there seems a great disadvantage for it. The ruling Muslim League, both by its form and contents, is absent in AJK. Therefore in its absence the rival MMA will certainly have a field day: the things it cannot do in Pakistan can do in AJK, a free for all territory. Will the ruling Muslim League afford this what a political commentator called a clumsy situation? Certainly not. Therefore it will need its physical presence in the political structure of AJK so that the Kashmir-wise 'game' is not totally hijacked by the MMA at a crucial time when hardly a year away general elections in AJK are going to be held in May-June 2006 to return electors to the Assembly and by rotation to Kashmir Council of the State. The 2006 general elections in AJK will not have normal or routine importance for the sake of elections. They are being held in the serious atmosphere of ongoing Pakistan-India Kashmir related dialogue. Again this aspect too seems a 'necessity' of expanding political pluralism with new political platforms wielded either by MMA or by Muslim League. And this may unfold a new political competition there. But to what extent the likely presence of any other platform will be digestible by the ruling Muslim Conference is quite predictable. For Muslim Conference this 'move' having Muslim League or MMA presence in AJK is an anathema which is understood in the powers of corridor in Islamabad. All these factors directly contribute to an emerging scenario in Azad Jammu and Kashmir disturbing the political status quo. Some close watchers of politics in the State also say that with the entrenchment of MMA in AJK other political parties like Muslim League (N) and Tehrik-e-Insaaf may also jump into the already tense arena. That is why the political watchers predict that AJK politics are going to confront a new challenge at a crucial time. The response to this emerging challenge will certainly create a new range of political bitterness affecting Kashmir scenario. Whatever might be the long-term consequences, one thing is clear even at this stage that Kashmir is going to dominate the national politics from Quetta to Kashmir once again as a hot issue.