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Friday, June 21, 2024  
14 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

PPP leaders blast AJK PM as internet, cellular services remain suspended amid strike

President Zardari summons meeting over strikes in AJK: sources
A bridge in Muzaffarabad give deserted look on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
A bridge in Muzaffarabad give deserted look on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
A street in Muzaffarabad give deserted look on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
A street in Muzaffarabad give deserted look on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
A top shot of a bridge shows a convoy of police entering the city on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
A top shot of a bridge shows a convoy of police entering the city on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
A still from a video shows police and protesters during clashes. Screengrab via Aaj News
A still from a video shows police and protesters during clashes. Screengrab via Aaj News
Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq addresses a press conference in Muzaffarabad on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq addresses a press conference in Muzaffarabad on May 12, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News

Internet and cellular services were suspended in all 10 districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, reports said as the Joint Action Committee’s protest against what they say high wheat and electricity rates entered the third day on Sunday. Meanwhile, the PPP leadership has complained to president Asif Zardari regarding the attitude of the AJK prime minister.

Protesters in Muzaffarabad marched towards the assembly. At least two policemen were reported to be injured in the latest clashes with the protesters.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has summoned a report from Shah Ghulam Qadir, the PML-N’s president for the AJK chapter, over the AJK protests.

The Joint Action Committee clarified that it had no link to the violent incidents and slammed the Indian media propaganda over their protests.

Meeting under Zardari

A meeting was held at the Presidential House under President Zardari to discuss the situation in Azad Kashmir. The top leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) deliberated on various options concerning the Azad Kashmir government.

According to sources, the PPP leadership presented a barrage of complaints against the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir.

The meeting focused on the current situation in Kashmir.

President Asif Zardari also met with a delegation of members from the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly of the PPP.

The delegation informed the President about the recent tragic events in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The President expressed sorrow over the current situation in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and conveyed condolences for the tragic loss of police officers.

President Zardari also offered prayers for the speedy recovery of all those injured in the recent clashes.

On this occasion, the President said, “All stakeholders should show restraint, engage in dialogue, and resolve the issues of Azad Jammu and Kashmir through mutual consultation.”

President Asif Zardari stated that political parties, state institutions, and the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir should work responsibly to prevent the enemy elements from taking advantage of the situation.

The President emphasized that the demands of the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir should be fulfilled in accordance with the law, and he would discuss the grievances of the people with the Prime Minister to find a solution to the current situation.

He further stated that health, education, tourism, and infrastructure development should be given priority for social and economic progress in Azad Kashmir.

The President stressed the need to bridge the gap between far-flung regions and other developed areas of the country.

Dialogue is the solution to problems: AJK PM

AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq told reporters negotiations were a solution to the issues.

“Today or tomorrow, the agreement that the Government of AJK and Awami Action Committees had signed an agreement. According to Shaukat Mir, 99% of the matters were resolved. Services have notified and we will provide you with that. The implementation on that is under way, now what is the need to spread anarchy,” he told reporters.

According to the AJK PM, there was an “element” in the region which has their own narrative and belief related to Kashmir, but they were very less in number.

Haq added that the police were doing routine patrol and clarified that the FC was not posted there.

The mountainous region has been cut off from the rest of the country since Friday after the Joint Action Committee announced wheel-jam and shutter-down strikes in support of their demands.

The group, which comprises farmers, businessmen, locals, and vendors, is demanding wheat subsidy and tax-free electricity from the Mangla dam.

In a statement, the committee said that the strikes in all 10 districts would continue on Sunday. The group has claimed that police arrested several members who were marching from Haveli district to Muzaffarabad.

It merits here to mention that the district administration has imposed a ban on the gathering of more than five people in Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Kotli, Bhambir, Poonch, Haveli, Sidhonti, Neelum, and Jhelum Valley under Section 144 of CrPC for 10 days.

Sources added that the PPP would also decide whether to be part of the ruling coalition or not.

Meanwhile, the administration changed Muzaffarabad DIG Yaseen Qureshi. Irfan Masood Kashf replaced him as the new DIG in the region.

Roadblocks

The protest has resulted in road blockades, complete suspension of public and inter-city transport, a significant decline in tourist arrivals, and inconvenience for those returning as they face road closures. Some protesters are guiding returning tourists through alternative routes while others are providing information about the situation.

In this situation, both local residents and tourists are facing extreme difficulties in acquiring basic commodities. Those who have supplies are managing with what they have, as they are unable to find anything elsewhere.

The police have not issued any traffic plans or instructions for tourists. Instead, reports say they have been arresting the representatives of the committee and protesters.

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Policeman killed

A sub-inspector was killed and 12 officers injured during a clash between the police and protesters in Kotli on Saturday.

Similar clashes, clashes, baton charges, and tear gas usage between the police and protesters in the Poonch and Muzaffarabad divisions of AJK further intensified the situation, turning the region’s capital into a battleground.

In an attempt to halt the ‘long march’ organized by the Joint Action Committee towards Islamabad, the authorities set up barriers on the roads leading to Muzaffarabad.

Protesters demands

The AJK Joint Action Committee listed 10 demands before the government

  • Wheat subsidy similar to Gilgit Baltistan
  • Electricity tariff should be determined from the cost of electricity production from the Mangla Hydropower Project in AJK
  • Unnecessary perks and privileges of the ruling class and officials should be completely eliminated
  • Restrictions on student unions should be lifted, and elections should be conducted
  • Kashmir Bank should be scheduled
  • Municipal representatives should be given funds and powers
  • Cellular companies and internet services should be standardised
  • Property transfer taxes should be reduced
  • Accountability Bureau should be made active in AJK and amendments should be made to the Act
  • Practical restrictions should be imposed on tree cutting and legislation should be enacted to revitalize the local wood industry

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Asif Ali Zardari

azad jammu and kashmir

President Asif Zardari