Protests against plan to relocate AJK capital
11 February 2007
Muzaffarabad: Angry youths burnt tyres on a main road here on Sunday in protest against the government decision to relocate the AJK capital. 'Shifting of the capital unacceptable,' shouted demonstrators belonging to different political groups and student organisations. Burning tyres blocked traffic on the bustling Bank Road. The protesters chanted slogans against AJK Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and Works Minister Raja Nasim, who announced this decision in separate press conferences in Islamabad and Muzaffarabad on Saturday. Both the premier and minister contended that Muzaffarabad was located in the red zone. The prime minister had announced that government offices would be rebuilt along the Muzaffarabad-Kohala road and quake survivors would be rehabilitated along the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar road. But Mr Nasim had said that the Chattar Klass area, situated some 22km from here along the Muzaffarabad-Kohala road, was under consideration for the government offices. The announcement drew sharp criticism from top political leaders of the area who launched mass contact to thwart the move on Sunday.Jammu Kashmir People’s Muslim League (JKPML) leader Shaukat Javed Mir, who was among the demonstrators, urged President Pervez Musharraf to intervene and stop the AJK rulers from taking this 'unwise step'. The leaders warned the AJK government that such move would have serious repercussions. Terming the relocation of government offices to such a far place illogical and irrational, they pointed out that foreign experts had also proposed in the land use plan that the government offices should be rebuilt within the existing municipal limits of Muzaffarabad. “People of Muzaffarabad would not allow any individual or organisation to ruin the historical status of their town,” they added. Meanwhile, top political leaders from Muzaffarabad, including Muslim Conference senior vice-president and MLA Raja Farooq Haider, JKPML secretary- general Khawaja Farooq Ahmed and Muslim Conference (Haqiqi group) leader Ms Noreen Arif, geared up their efforts to mobilise the public against the plan. A meeting held at the residence of Ms Arif also discussed arrangements for a multy-party conference on the issue to be held on Feb 15. But before that, Mr Haider told Dawn, a representative delegation of the leaders from Muzaffarabad would call on Prime Minister Sardar Attique to apprise him of concerns of the people and seek official position from him on the issue. 'If the premier officially denies any such plan is on the cards, then the APC will discuss other issues confronting the quake survivors,' he said.