MUZAFFARABAD: Main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has alleged that the recent constitutional amendments in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have “by and large” undermined the authority of the government in Muzaffarabad rather than empowering it.
Speaking at a news conference, party’s regional president Chaudhry Latif Akbar maintained that while his party had openly appreciated the withdrawal of administrative and financial powers from the AJK council, it was however shocked to see the legislative powers having been given to the executive in what had no precedence anywhere in the country.
Mr Akbar was referring to Article 31 (3) whereby the government of Pakistan has been given exclusive power to make law(s) with respect to any matter enumerated in ‘Part A’ of the Third Schedule. Earlier, this authority was vested in the AJK council.
We appreciate withdrawal of powers from council but are shocked to see legislative powers been given to executive, says Chaudhry Latif Akbar
The PPP chief pointed out that the federal government could not do legislation even for the provinces let alone AJK which was a disputed territory and not a federating unit.
“Across the world, legislation is the domain of the parliament and not the government. But here it has been given to the federal government in what amounts to a great anomaly,” he said.
“In fact, it has undermined the authority of the AJK government.”
Mr Akbar said while the council had been “reduced” to an advisory body the chairman of the council (prime minister of Pakistan) had been given powers to appoint judges, chief election commissioner, etc.
On the other hand, perks and privileges of the six elected council members were mentioned but there was no reference to their functions and responsibilities, he added.
The PPP leader claimed that after these amendments AJK had regressed to the time when the federal Kashmir affairs ministry called the shots in the region.
He recalled that during his party’s government in AJK a house committee, which included PML-N lawmakers, had prepared recommendations for constitutional reforms which were unanimously approved by the assembly.
“We could not get those recommendations approved in shape of a bill because the PML-N-led federal government did not accord approval to the amendments,” he maintained.
He said Raja Farooq Haider-led government should have got those unanimous recommendations approved but instead it prepared and bulldozed a new draft at the strength of its two-third majority.
To a question, he said the council was not an undesirable institution but it had trespassed in some affairs beyond its mandate.
He said council’s role could have been revisited and improved but what the PML-N had done “had left everyone bewildered.”