The constitutional status of Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir is intended to be corrected once again. In this regard, the 15th amen hevisdment is required in the Act enacted by the Government of Pakistan in 1974. An ordinance was enacted in 1950 to manage the administrative affairs of this region under the agreement of Karachi signed in 1949. In which various changes were made till 1958. However, in 1960, with the implementation of the Basic Democracy (BD) Act, elections were started.
After that, the Act was changed in 1964, 1967 and 1968. In 1970, the Act of 1970 was implemented to hold direct presidential elections. After that, the Act of 1974 came into force, in which 14 amendments have been made so far. Despite all this hard work, the governments and the state of Pakistan could not be satisfied with the constitutional status of this region and the determination of powers between the Government of Pakistan and the local government. Preparations are now being made for the 15th Amendment, which will be the 24th overall attempt to determine the constitutional status of the region in the last 75 years.
A local government committee was formed for the 15th amendment, whose members included government ministers Mir Akbar Khan, Dewan Ali Khan Chaghtai, Abdul Majid Khan, Azhar Sadiq, Zafar Iqbal Malik, Chaudhry Yasir Sultan, besides the Secretary Agriculture and Secretary Law and Justice, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights Secretary have been added. The draft prepared in consultation with the Committee, which is said to have come to him in a ready state, a presentation of the draft was made by the Secretary, Law and Justice, to be placed before the Committee, a copy of which was made. Now, apart from journalists, opposition parties have also reached.
A letter for the 15th constitutional amendment has also been written by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs. In this letter written by the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs on July 1, 2022, it is said that the meeting of the high-level committee established by the Prime Minister of Pakistan under the chairmanship of the Federal Secretary of Law and Justice will be held on June 30, 2022. happened In this meeting, it has been decided to form a sub-committee which will review and finalize the proposed draft of the constitutional amendment. The letter also states that through this amendment, the ongoing functions of the Government of Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir are to be aligned with the Provincial Governments of Pakistan and the functions of the Government of Pakistan relating to Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir are to be transferred to the federating units (i.e. other units of the federation) will be modeled.
The sub-committee was given a mandate till 31 July 2022 to achieve this target. Three members have been added to this sub-committee by the Government of Pakistan. In which one member each from Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Kashmir Affairs will be included. 3 members nominated by the local government will be part of this sub-committee. Through this letter, the Chief Secretary of Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been asked to nominate 3 members of the local government. Secretaries to the government Mr. Idris and Irshad Qureshi have been nominated for the committee by the local government.
The draft prepared by the local cabinet appears to be an attempt to roll back the 13th constitutional amendment and restore the institution of the Jammu and Kashmir Council with greater powers. The federal government’s letter reveals the exact opposite situation, according to which it is preparing to change the constitutional status of this region and give it a setup similar to other provinces of Pakistan. For this change, it is necessary to change the articles and sub-articles related to distribution of resources including Senate, National Assembly including Article One and 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan. However, some legal experts believe that through the 15th constitutional amendment, all the powers of the local assembly are transferred to the Kashmir Council, and the way for this change is to be paved by keeping the majority of representatives of the government of Pakistan in the Kashmir Council.
Thus, the draft of the 15th Amendment cannot be ignored in this way.
According to the draft, it is proposed to include Foreign Minister, Interior Minister and Finance Minister of Pakistan in the formation of the Council. The prior permission of the Government of Pakistan has been made mandatory for all amendments to the Constitution, while previously only three articles 31, 33 and 56 were not allowed to be amended. In the 13th constitutional amendment, the number of cabinet ministers was fixed at 30 percent of the assembly members, which is proposed to be increased to 50 percent. The clause delegating powers of council to local government has been deleted.
The draft proposes to abolish powers like prior approval of the assembly and dissolution of the assembly for emergency, while retaining the clause on non-suspension of fundamental rights for the implementation of emergency. Within 15 days of the amendment, the council is proposed to be reformed and restored. An addition of 12 seats has been proposed for symbolic representation of the Indian-administered territories of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, which will remain vacant.
54 matters for legislation under the 13th Constitutional Amendment were divided into Parts A and B of the Third Schedule. In 32 matters included in Part A, the power to legislate was vested solely in the Government of Pakistan, while in respect of 22 matters included in Part B, the Legislative Assembly was empowered to legislate with the consent or approval of the Government of Pakistan. However, the new proposed amendment also proposes to delegate the power to legislate on 22 matters covered in Part B to the Council.
Thus, this assembly will not be able to legislate on all hydel projects, electricity generated from them, underground minerals, determination of jurisdiction of courts, education curriculum. The Legislative Assembly will not be able to play any role in the laws made by the Council. The Prime Minister of Pakistan will also have the authority to appoint judges of the Supreme Court and the appointments made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan will not be challenged in any court. The power to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner and Auditor General will also belong to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and this appointment will not be challenged in any court. The Kashmir property in Pakistan will be declared the property of the Council and the power to impose emergency will be delegated from the Assembly to the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Thus, the political leadership is concerned that by approving the proposed amendment draft by the local government, the powers will be given to the Council and the power to declare emergency will be assigned to the Prime Minister of Pakistan by amending the Constitution of Pakistan and showing the regional style. The separate identity will be abolished and replaced by the provincial structure. Here too, a greater fear than identity is emerging in the form of the possibility of demographic change on the pattern of the Indian project after the implementation of the Citizenship Act.
Due to the state subject role and disputed territory, no one can come and settle in this region by buying land from outside the state, nor are non-states given preference in local jobs. The process of obtaining citizenship in this region is almost impossible. In the same way, it is inevitable to change the separate and controversial status or identity of the region to lease the tourist spots to foreign investors.
Legal experts say that by amending the Tourism Promotion Act 2019, this 15th constitutional amendment is also to complete the plan to establish the Tourism Development Authority and hand over the land of around 571 square kilometers to foreign investors. And the constitutional status of this region must be changed.
However, this project is not so new, its fabric is connected with the Indian actions of August 5, 2019. When India annexed Jammu and Kashmir into its Union, the government of Pakistan reacted by issuing a political map showing the entire Jammu and Kashmir (excluding the Chinese-occupied area). , claimed Sir Creek and the Indian state of Junagadh. The publication of this map anywhere in Pakistan and the use of any other map was not only banned but also penalties were announced for violation.
Thus, in this context, it is inevitable for the government of Pakistan to include the areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan under its administration in its constitutional boundaries according to this political map. Which has to be implemented at some stage anyway. However, ways of doing this while maintaining the moral justification of maintaining the international position are being sought.
Thus, it can be seen from this whole situation that the ruling classes and states of India and Pakistan are continuing their occupation of this region and plundering the resources of this region instead of the better lives and development of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir. They are committed to these expansion ambitions. Therefore, in order to fulfill these expansion ambitions, the people of this region are being badly used under the changing global conditions and regional strategic needs. Whenever necessary, through constitutional, political and geographical amendments and claims of this kind, efforts are made to convince the local population that these changes are being made keeping in mind their interests.
The current change is also being done on the basis of imperialism and strategy. Every change made in the past has been done according to the same imperial and strategic needs. Whenever such changes have been made, the local ruling elites have resorted to protest, using national chauvinism to gain their share. At present, the purpose of the protest of the ruling elite is the fear of restrictions on their extravagance and looting. Right-wing leaderships and part of the ruling elite, these people protest against the decisions and policies of the government of Pakistan and declare their loyalty to the state of Pakistan. It has always been reluctant to say clearly that the state of Pakistan itself had overruled the powers of the government formed as a result of the rebellion of the people of the region. Even then, the ruling elite ignored the sacrifices of the people of the region, keeping the local population in the dark about all the options.
In the declaration of independence made on October 24, 1947, it was clearly written that “the purpose of the government is to restore order and order in the sovereign state that the people choose a democratic constitution maker and a representative government by their opinion.” The neighboring countries of Pakistan and India have the best feelings, friendship and goodwill. Hopes that the two countries will fully sympathize with the natural desire of the Kashmiri people for freedom. The caretaker government is keen to maintain the geographical integrity and political identity of the state.”
This dream of democratic, constitution-making and electing a representative government by public opinion, including the restoration of the administration of the state, has not been fulfilled yet. In 1950, a movement was started against the government of Pakistan on the demand of electing the government through popular adult suffrage, on which the army was massacred. Due to popular armed reaction, this demand was accepted but then could not be implemented. In 1956, there was another rebellion, which was again tried to be crushed by the Punjab Constabulary and the army. The conciliatory role of the ruling elite allowed these sacrifices to go in vain and the Government of Pakistan retained its power to nominate local rulers.
The people of this region have made an unprecedented history of sacrifices for decades to achieve political, economic and constitutional rights, but the ruling elite has always used these sacrifices to achieve their interests. Public aspirations have always been traded. This is the reason why the people of this region are struggling for employment. Apart from political, economic, democratic and constitutional rights, even a small amount of road infrastructure has not yet been built in this region.
Even now, the ruling elites are using the public sentiment against the change of identity and status to build up a limited struggle. In order to advance this struggle, in the first phase, apart from all the government-making and constitution-making powers, the demand for financial powers and the struggle to end the military occupation will have to be developed. All resources, including all power generation projects, must be nationalized and put under the democratic control of the people.
Instead of fighting for the interests of the ruling elite by falling under the illusion of identity and chauvinism, the struggle for the real salvation of the oppressed and subjugated people of this region, and the establishment of a society free from exploitation, should be built. Based on the principles of fair distribution of resources, building this struggle on a class basis, we have to make connections with the working class of other subjugated and oppressed nationalities including Gilgit-Baltistan and get solidarity with them. Historically, this shows that the ruling elite can only build up the slogan of savior of the working class for its nefarious purposes, the working class will have to become its own savior.