Islamabad has duped Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) once again by withdrawing the 15th Constitutional Amendment bill which talked of giving provincial status to the region.
After much anticipation of attempts by the Pakistan government to pass the 15th Constitutional Amendment bill to the Interim Constitution of PoK, the Legislative Assembly decided to withdraw the bill, reported Asian Lite International.
The bill envisaged the establishment of a separate election commission for local bodies (LB), which was tabled by the government on August 13, 2022, with the backing of the Opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The 15th Amendment is the 24th attempt to determine the constitutional status of PoK, reported Asian Lite International.
While the PoK Assembly remained undecided, the people of the territory illegally occupied by Pakistan in 1947 protested vociferously against the attempt by Islamabad to take away their rights.
This amendment is purely related to the procedure of local elections. There is a powerful undercurrent of discontent in the PoK region that is under Pakistan's control. Moreover, there has been an outcry that Islamabad does not take the people in PoK into confidence or consult them before taking big decisions for them, reported Islam Khabar.
The introduction of the bill led to massive protests and public meetings in all the ten districts of PoK. Protestors strongly objected to the Pakistan government's plan to bring in the 15th amendment to fix the constitutional status of the region, reported Asian Lite International.
The new draft rules aimed to roll back the 13th amendment which had empowered local lawmakers to take major political and economic decisions without the approval of Islamabad.
A bandh was called at Muzaffarabad's Gilani Chowk. All roads in the area were shut. Protests have been ongoing in areas such as Rawalakot, Bagh, Poonch, Muzaffarabad, and Neelum Valley, reported Asian Lite International.
PoK citizens are angry over the repeated attempts by the Islamabad government to divest the region of its special power and take complete control over the administration, reported Islam Khabar.
The Pakistan government's plan is to bring in the 15th Constitutional Amendment that will transfer the financial and administrative powers of the local government to Islamabad.
Kashmiris have been long-suspicious about Islamabad's intentions to exploit vast reserves of natural resources the region has.
There have been repeated allegations that the Pakistan state exploits the rich forest, mining and water resources in PoK while Kashmiri people could not get any benefit.
Even locals are not consulted before natural resources from the region are explored and exploited by Pakistan, reported Islam Khabar.