Seminar 18th October 2010

Report of Seminar held at Islamabad on 18th October 2010

The Association for the Rights of the People of Jammu and Kashmir (ARJK) held a seminar at Islamabad on 18th October 2010 to introduce its aims and objects to the wider public and to seek the views of the civil society, especially from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. The Seminar was attended by academics, lawyers, journalists, former diplomats and civil servants, as well as representatives of public organization from AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The proceedings of the Seminar began with a recitation of verse from the Holy Quran by Professor Syed M. Ali Raza Bukhari Saheb.

The following speakers addressed the Seminar:
Syed Manzoor Hussain Gilani, Chairman of ARJK
Mr. Afzal Ali Sigri, Vice Chairman of ARJK
Air Marshal (Retd.) Masood AKhtar
Mr. Haroon Khalid, General Secretary of the Gilgit-Baltistan
Mr. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, member of the ARJK Executive Committee
The speeches were followed by an open discussion from the floor.
Mr. Inam ul Haque, former Foreign Minister and former Foreign Secretary, made the concluding remarks.

A summary of the speeches and discussions at the Seminar is given below.

Sheikh Muhammad Junaid, Secretary General ARJK, informed the participants that the Association had been set up in June 2010 by Justices (Retd.) Manzoor Gilani with the cooperation of some like-minded persons contacted by him. It was a non-profit organization and would act mainly as a think-tank.

The Secretary General invited the participants to join the Association as members and support its activities and expressed the hope that they would contribute towards the achievement of its aims and objects by sharing their views with it and providing other inputs. The Association would also welcome any ideas from the wider public, The Secretary General then invited Justice (Retd.) Gilani, Chairman of the Association, the introduce its aims and objects and planned activities.

Justice (Retd.) Syed Manzoor Hussain Gilani, Chairman, inaugurated the Seminar, He thanked the participants for their attendance and interest and noted that many representatives of the bar, former diplomats and civil servants and renewed journalists were present.

He said that he had conceived the idea of setting up and association to promote the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the 1980s and was glad he had now succeeded in giving a concrete shape to this project.

Introducing the Association, Justice (Retd.) Gilani said that it had been established with the following objective:

a)      To work for the achievement of the right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and UNCIP and UN Charter, and

b)      Pending the achievement of this goal, to secure full constitutional rights for the people of the liberated territories of the State of Jammu and Kashmir comprising Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

He informed the participants that the head office of the Association was in Muzaffarabad and branch offices would be set up in Islamabad and in key countries overseas where people of Jammu and Kashmir are settled to mobilize international support for the achievement of the Kashmiri’s right to self-determination. The Association would like to work in collaboration with other organizations and individuals that shared its aims and objects.

Mr. Gilani said that the struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir for self-determination began with the so-called accession of the state to India in October 1947. It is now in its 63rd year. Despite the massive use of force by the Indian occupation authorities, it has been gathering strength over the years. The mass upsurge against Indian rule during the last few years amounted to an unofficial referendum against India. It had demonstrated that the new generation of the people of the State was united in its resolve to reject “solutions” that India and the political parties sponsored by it were striving for and would not be deterred by India state terrorism form continuing their movement. They rejected autonomy or self-rule within India or any “out-of-the-box” solution. They would only accept azadi.

Mr. Gilani said that the Association condemned the use of force by the Indian occupation force against peaceful demonstrators and expressed its solidarity with the victims. It prayed for the departed souls and extended its condolences to the families of the martyrs.

The Association extended its full support to the “Quit Jammu and Kashmir” movement in Occupied Kashmir and urged the Government of Pakistan to raise the Kashmir issue in international for a. It also called upon the Government to reject the so-called “out-of-the-box-solution” publicly and unambiguously. The people of Jammu and Kashmir had an inalienable right to self-determination. They demanded that the Untied Nation resolutions guaranteeing this right should be implemented. These resolutions were as valid today as they were when they were adopted.

Mr. Gilani said that pending the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution, the Government of Pakistan must give the liberated areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-baltistan the same constitutional rights as other parts of Pakistan. These areas were under the control and authority of the Government of Pakistan under United Nations Resolutions and in accordance with the will of the people. They feel within the definition of “territories otherwise included in Pakistan” in terms of Article 1(2)(d) of the Constitution of Pakistan. IN addition, they had also been given certain constitutional guarantees under Article 257.

Mr. Gilani said that the resolution adopted by the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference on 19 July 1947 had called for the accession of the State of Pakistan, while Gilgit-Baltistan had formally acceded to Pakistan. But this was put in abeyance pending implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on a plebiscite to determine the final status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr. Gilani further said that in accordance with notifications dated 11 May 1971 and 6 June 1988 issued by the Cabined Division of the Government of Pakistan, both the liberated territories were practically being treated as part of Pakistan. These notifications clearly directed that AJK is to be brought “into the mainstream of general administration of Pakistan and that it should for all practical purposes, be treated like any other province of the Federation”. The spirit of this directive was also applicable to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Mr. Gilani said that while both Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan were being treated like the provinces of Pakistan as far as their liabilities and obligations were concerned, these territories were not being allowed the rights and privileges enjoyed by a province, particularly representation in the two houses of Parliament and the rights regulated by Part V and VI of the Constitution of Pakistan, in particular Articles 153 to 161 (Council of Common Interests, National Economic Council and National Finance Commission). Further, although the Pakistan Government had all the powers of the Federal Government in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan, these territories had no part in the formation of the Government or in policy-making.

Mr. Gilani pointed out that while the status of Jammu and Kashmir was disputed, it did not follow that the human, political and constitutional rights of the people were also disputed or that granting these rights to them would affect the status of the State. In this connection, he quoted from the explanation given by the UN representative on 25 January 1950 that “the (evacuated territories) of the State remain under the effective control of the High Command of Pakistan and the population of these territories will have freedom of legitimate political activity and full political and administrative control including the maintaining of law and order and security of these areas.” (The liberated territories have been referred to under the UNCIP resolution of 13 August 1948 as “evacuated territories.”)

Mr. Gilani said it was anomaly the AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan were subject to the liabilities and obligations of the provinces of Pakistan but did not have their rights and privileges. The Association would strive for the removal of this anomaly through an amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan to place AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan at par with the provinces in respect of their rights and privileges and give them at least the same quantum of provincial autonomy as the provinces have been given under the Eighteenth Amendment, pending the implementation of the UN resolutions and the exercise by the people of Jammu and Kashmir of their right to self-determination through a plebiscite conducted by the UN.

Mr. Gilani emphasized that although AJK and GB would get the rights and privileges of provinces under the amendment proposed by the Association, they would not become provinces and the status of the two territories as separate entities within the Jammu and Kashmir as well as the international status of the State as disputed territory whose final status is yet to be determined would remain unaffected. The constitutional amendment would also not affected the right of self-determination of the people of the State under UN Security Council resolutions or Pakistan’s commitment to the implementation of these resolutions.

Mr. Gilani explained that the proposed constitutional amendment would also be fully consistent with Un Security resolution of dated 24 January 1957, which declared that “ the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.”

Mr. Gilani said that giving AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan constitutional rights and powers at par with the provinces, as proposed by the Association, had become all the more necessary after the recent resurgence of the freedom movement in Occupied Kashmir, so that accession to Pakistan remains the first choice of the people of the occupied state.

Mr. Gilani also expressed the confidence that if the proposed constitutional amendment was made, no one would be able to usurp the rights f the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in future and there would be no room for manipulation by those who sought to create divisions among the people.

Mr. Gilani said it was significant that at the address of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to the nation a day earlier, the Prime Minister of AJK and the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan had been seated alongside the Chief Ministers of the provinces of Pakistan. This indicated that AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan were equated with the Provinces as regards their governance. This must now be recognized formally through a constitutional amendment.

Mr. Afzal Ali Shigri, Vice Chairman of ARJK< belongs to Gilgit-Baltistan, He and is retired IG of Police.

Mr. Shigri began his speech by giving a brief history of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had followed the independence movement in India with keen interest and a large segment of the people of this area who had settled in Simla and Mussoorie actively participated in the struggle for Pakistan. The people of the area saw this as an opportunity to rise against the repressive Dogra rule. Junior officers of Gilgit Scouts took a lead in this uprising and arrested Ghansara Singh, the Dogra governor. After a long and hard struggle lasting a year, Gilgit-Baltistan was liberated. With a single voice, the people chose to be part of Pakistan. The local notable, the rajas and jirgas of the common people of entire Gilgit-Baltistan expressed their choice clearly and loudly. Like Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan effectively became part of Pakistan.

Mr. Shigri said that the Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and UNCIP stipulating that the final status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir has to be determined by the people through a plebiscite linked the fate of the two liberated area, namely Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, with a settlement of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr. Shigri recalled that an arrangement called the Karachi Agreement was entered into between the Government of Pakistan an representatives of the liberated areas of the State in 1949, under which all affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan were handed over to the Government of Pakistan. Thus, two administrative units of the liberated territories came into being; one represented by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Government and other called Gilgit-Baltistan under the direct control of the Government of Pakistan. Unfortunately no representative of Gilgit-Baltistan was associated in this arrangement.

Mr. Shigri said that for a long time, Gilgit-Baltistan was administrated with practically no political participation of the local population. It remained in political limbo for more than sixty two years till the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009 issued by the present government. Gilgit-Baltistan has now a self-governance arrangement at par with AJK.

Mr. Shigri explained that according to Article 1(2)(d) of the Constitution of Pakistan, both Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan fall within the ambit of the definition of “territories otherwise included in Pakistan.” Both territories are now administered under governance orders given by the Government of Pakistan. The powers of federal nature relating to these territories vest in the Council consisting of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, five members nominated by him from amongst Federal Ministers and members of Parliament and six members elected by the Legislative Assemblies of these territories.

Mr. Shigri said that both these territories were subject to all the obligations and liabilities of the provinces of Pakistan, but do not have the rights of provinces under the Constitution of Pakistan. They have no representation in the National Assembly or the Senate of Pakistan but the laws enacted by these bodies are made applicable to these areas through executive orders or with the approval of the Council. This must change. People who liberated their areas and joined Pakistan of their free will were entitled to equal rights with the citizens of Pakistan.

Mr. Shigri said that the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan should be brought into the mainstream of the decision-making process in the country to enable them to achieve their legal rights at the national level. The Parliament should appropriately amend the Constitution of Pakistan for governance of both the territories without changing their political status. Pending the determination of the final status of the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan should provisionally be given all the rights and privileges available to other provinces of the Federation of Pakistan, including representation in both houses of Parliament.

Mr. Shigri said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan firmly stand by their brothers across the Line of Control. They had time and again renewed their pledge to the people of the occupied state with their blood by participating in the on-going struggle for the rights of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan flags flying on the graves of the shuhada (martyrs) of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir were evidence of this commitment.

Mr. Shigri said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan strongly supported the solution of Jammu and Kashmir within the parameters of UN Resolution. They do not support any “out-of-the box solution” as it cannot supersede the United Nations Security Council resolutions or make them irrelevant or redundant.

Air Marshal (Retd.) Masood Akhter, who is from Kotli (AJK), lamented the fact that successive Pakistan government had prevented the people of Mirpur and the surrounding cities from using the water of the Mangla Lake and electricity produced from the Dam.

He fully supported the point made by Justice Gilani that while the status of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed, the rights of the people, as given by Islam, the constitution of Pakistan and the UN Charter, were not dispute and were not negotiable. He said that the Federation of Pakistan could not be strong and secure unless its constituent units, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), were strong. The people of AJK and GB, he said, must be given a voice in the Pakistan legislature under the constitution of Pakistan. He proposed that the constitution should be suitably amended for this purpose pending the final settlement of the dispute according to the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, with a proviso that UNSC resolutions and the position of the governments of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir would not be affected.

Mr. Masood Akhter said that as Pakistan was unfortunately becoming insecure, the Government of Pakistan was not able to extend full moral, diplomatic and political support to the just indigenous struggle for azadi by the people of Occupied Kashmir. He felt that this struggle had taken a life of its own and was now being supported also by some sections of the civil society of India. He emphasized that Pakistan could retain its relevance only by sticking to the UNSC Resolutions in the fast-changing scenario in Indian Held Kashmir.

Mr. Masood Akhter said that he was a born Kashmiri a proud naturalized Pakistani with a domicile in both places. He has served with pride in the Pakistan Air Force, a tradition that two of his sons were continuing. He identified himself first as a Pakistani and then a Pakistani-Kashmiri. He feared that unless the Government of Pakistan gave due rights to the people of AJK and GB, their identity could possibly mutate first into Kashmiri-Pakistan and then into Kashmiri-Kashmiri, something that he would never wish should happen.

Mr. Masood Akhter proposed that this just struggle for the greater good of Pakistan and AJK should be waged at two levels one through this Association and the other at the level of the national security of Pakistan. While he would continue to work at the latter, he would also be available to the forum for any help, assistance or role that is assigned to him by the Chairman.

Mr. Haroon Khalid, General Secretary of the Gilgit-Baltistan Qaumi Movement, said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had liberated themselves from Dogra rule in November 1947 solely through their own efforts. They set up a short-lived government of their own before acceding unconditionally to Pakistan.

Mr. Khalid said that after the adoption of UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, the final status of Gilgit-Baltistan was linked with the holding of a plebiscite. These resolutions were not implemented and after the death of the Quaid-e-Azam, there was a leadership crisis in Pakistan. The country became a victim of dictatorial rule and ad-hoc ism. Until 1971, there was no leader of stature and no stable government.

Mr. Khalid said that Gilgit-Baltistan was the jugular vein (shahrag) of Pakistan. The Indus River, which provides vitally needed water to the plains of Pakistan flows through Gilgit-Baltistan. The territory is also of vital defense importance to Pakistan as it provides access to China.

Mr. Khalid said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan wanted to join the national mainstream, but because of poor leadership, very little had been done in this direction. For 64 years, they remained without a constitution. The country needed a leadership which was sincere and looked after the national interest.

Mr. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi is a former Ambassador of Pakistan to India. He was also the representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations to Iraaq and to Sudan.

Mr. Qazi expressed the view that Pakistan needed a policy on Jammu and Kashmir that met four conditions:

First, it must be clear and leave no room for ambiguity.

Second, the policy and its implementation must be in consonance with international law. After 9/11, there was an attempt to equate freedom struggle with terrorism. This was contrary to the UN Charter.

Fourth, it must be acceptable to the people of Kashmir.

Mr. Qazi said that the Kargil operation had been a big folly. It had shifted international focus from the right of self-determination to respect for the Line of Control. After 9/11 our policy had been changed under external pressure.

Mr. Qazi said that Pakistan’s case on Kashmir was strong but because of our policy shortcomings, the Indian side got a better hearing internationally.

He said the ne generation of Kashmiris was completely alienated from India but today it also entertained doubts about Pakistan. They had rejected “accession” to India but, unlike in the past, this had not been fully translated into support for accession to Pakistan. Slogans in favour of Pakistan (“Pakistan Zindablad” and “Kashmir banega Pakistan”) which were common previously were not head today in the occupied State as frequently as in the past.

Mr. Qazi said that even the APHC treated accession to Pakistan and independence for the State as two mutually exclusive goals. This was harming the struggle for azadi and was helping India. There was therefore and immediate need to review our policy to end this distinction between accession (ilhaq) and independence (azadi).

Mr. Qazi referred in this connection to Article 257 of Constitution of Pakistan, which reads as follows: “When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State.” Mr. Qazi said it was clear from this Article of the Constitution that the terms of accession to Pakistan would be determined by the people of Kashmir alone. There was thus a constitutional guarantee that if the people of Jammu and Kashmir so wished, they could opt for greater provincial autonomy than the provinces of Pakistan.

Mr. Qazi said that tell the people of Jammu and Kashmir got their right to self-determination, the complaints and grievances of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and of Gilgit-Baltistan must be removed. Article 257 should also be applied to any such interim arrangements. If the people of these liberated territories so wished, they should also be given a greater measure of autonomy than the privinces of Pakistan. This would give a message to the people of the occupied state that accession to Pakistan would practically amount to azadi.

Mr. Qazi said that realistically Pakistan must admit that a resolution of Kashmir requires bilateral talks with India as well as trilateral talks. A settlement would have to be acceptable to all three parties.


After the speeches, the Chairman, Syed Manzoor Hussain Gilani expressed his satisfaction at the fact that the Seminar had brought together participants from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan on one platform. Unfortunately, there were no participants from the occupied territory, whom the problem concerned most of all. He invited comments from the participants and requested them to share their thoughts on the presentations made by the speakers.

Mr. Ashgar Raja, correspondent of the daily Dawn, said it was important to take into account the views of the majority on the other side of the Line of Control He also pointed out that the proposal for the “administrative and constitutional integration” of the State with Pakistan was not in the manifesto of any of the political parties. The Association was rejecting an “out-of-the-box” solution and had expressed preference for a solution that could not be achieved in 60 years. It was also ignoring the future of territory under Chinese control. The Association should be open all options.

Wadood Qureshi, Editor Adrak-e-nau, said it was difficult to accept Mr. Qazi’s suggestion for equating the Independence option with the Pakistan.

Mr. Azhar Gilani, a lawyer and refugee from Occupied Kashmir who is now living in AJK, said that Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan had different systems. It would be difficult to give the same “provincial status” to both.

Mr. Muhammad Rafiq Dar supported the idea of formally recognizing the political and constitutional rights of the people of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that these rights could not be kept hostage to resolution of the Kashmir issue. Once a final settlement was reached, the constitutional arrangements could be renegotiated.

Mr. Athar Wani, editor of the weekly Kasheer, said that giving representation to AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan in the Parliament of Pakistan should not be seen as an acceptance of the status quo. A constitutional mechanism should be evolved that does not ‘dilute” the Kashmir issue.

Mr. Iftikhar Mughal, a journalist, said that “Kashmiri Pakistani” was no identity. It should be “Pakistani Kashmiri”.

Barrister Karamat Hussain, former Chairman of Kashmir Centre, Brussels said that an out-of –the-box solution provided as way forward.

Another participant said that before taking any steps for constitutional amendments, Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan would have to decide “where they want to go.”

Responding to the comment on the “third option” of an independent Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Ashraf Jaehangir Qazi said that the UN resolutions formed the foundation of our stand. They were the basis for challenging Kashmir’s “accession” to India and without them Pakistan would not be a party. These resolutions only gave two options: accession to Pakistan or to India. But realistically speaking, there had been a change in the last 60 years in the attitude of the Kashmiris. In the past, azadi used to be synonymous with accession to Pakistan. But that was not necessarily the case now, the new generation of Kashmiris did not identify azadi completely with accession. But we could minimize the difference between the two by pointing to Article 257.

Mr. Qazi also stressed that a debate between the two options was irrelevant at the present time. It would only hold India.

Responding to the different comments made by the participants, Syed Manzoor Hussain Gilani, Chairman, said that besides the resolutions of the UN Security Council and UNCIP, the UN Charter also required that the wishes of the people should be respected. The Charter had overriding importance and the UN resolutions also derived their validity from the Charter

Mr. Gilani said that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, as Chairman of the Council of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan, had all the powers of the Federations under the Constitution of Pakistan but AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan had no say in his election or in policy-making. AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan were practically being treated as provinces under a notification of the Cabinet Division. The association recommended that pending a determination of their final status, they should have not only obligations but also rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution to the provinces, including rights over water and hydel power and should get their due representation in the Council and Common  Interests, NEC and NFC. That did not mean that they should be made provinces.

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