MIRPUR (AJK) - Civil society representatives at a discourse under the aegis of Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR), an NGO, resolved that the revamp of interim act - 1974 (interim constitution of AJK) was essentially important for the socio-economic development, peace and prosperity in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.The 4th round of dialogue on CPDR’s report titled “An appraisal of constitutional, financial and administrative arrangements between government of Pakistan and AJK” was held at the picturesque town of Rawalakot which was attended by civil society representatives, leaders of various political parties, lawyers, academicians and the representatives of print and electronic.Renowned jurist Justice (r) Basharat Ahmed Sheikh while highlighting salient features of the report said that the interim act of 1974 had unfortunately undermined the status of government of the region and rendered it as an ineffective and impotent body with no executive power. He said that one of the darkest aspects of the Interim Act was that all the key executive powers were dedicated to Kashmir Council.He termed Kashmir Council as Kashmir-less Council. It is widely believed that taxation should be coupled with representation as Act 74 enabled Kashmir Council to levy tax within AJK, thus giving a greater control over AJK’s financial autonomy.He said that the KC had administrative authority over 52 subjects, whereas chairman of the council had been endowed with the authority regarding the appointment and dismissing of Chief Election Commissioner, Auditor General and the judges of Supreme Court and high court.As the KC chairman, he said, that prime minister of Pakistan exercises his full authority, which according to him was a violation of the constitution of Pakistan. So for as the rights of the people are concerned, he said, the article 257 of Pakistani constitution is very much clear that Kashmiris have every right to determine what sort of a relationship they want to establish with Pakistan.Speaking on the occasion, CPDR chairman Tariq Masood said, “CPDR has provided a unique platform to all the political actors as well as the civil society representatives to engage in a constructive, meaningful and result-oriented discussions on the subject to get the issues resolved through democratic and peaceful means”.Former Trans-LoC Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Zulfiqar Abassi said that 40% of budget was being consumed on administrative affairs, while on the other hand the private sector was on the brink of disaster as government of the region has no policy to facilitate the local investors. Former Chief JKLF Sardar Sagheer Ahmad Khan stressing the need for structural adjustment in Act 74 demanded the revocation of part 2 of section 7 of the Act 74 that disqualifies the nationalist elements from contesting elections.While concluding the debate, CPDR Executive Director Ershad Mahmud said that there have been diverse opinions however the real contention of the dialogue was to engage civil society and seek opinions as how to improve or to modify the existing structure bearing in mind the fact that the relationship with Pakistan was a reality that can’t just be ignored.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 05-Jul-2012 here.