Short History of Azad Jammu Kashmir.

By: Hoor ul ain
Kashmir emerged as an “international dispute” in 1947 but looking at the Kashmir question exclusively from that prism privileges India-Pakistan state-centric perspectives while erasing Kashmir’s own distinct political history. To begin to understand the Kashmiri aspiration for self-determination, it is important to trace the major events that have shaped Kashmiri’s political subjectivity.
Kashmir’s political history is a complex and volatile interaction between external forces and internal struggles. Keeping this in mind, I present this timeline as a resource for those curious about what drives the Kashmiri movement for self-determination despite the tremendous odds it faces. To be clear, the timeline is not the history of Kashmir, but a chronicle of key political events. In being so, the timeline falls squarely within the long tradition of Kashmiri chronicle writing. I start with the year 1947.
In 1947 Between August and October, Kashmir is independent. With Pakistan now a reality, Jamaat Islami activists want Kashmir to join Pakistan if it becomes an Islamic state, yet their parent body in British India has opposed Jinnah. Muslim Conference passes a resolution to join Pakistan. The Socialist Party also wants to join Pakistan. But NC is opposed to the idea. The British withdrawal and the partition of British India into India and Pakistan lead to violence in Bengal, Delhi, Punjab and elsewhere.
Kashmiris have been fighting against the monarchy and don’t see their struggle as part of South Asian secular, Hindu, or Muslim nationalisms, but the British ask “Princely Rulers” to accede either to India or to Pakistan based on geographical contiguity and religious demography. According to this Partition logic, Kashmir should have gone to Pakistan, as the state has a close to 77 percent Muslim population. In September, troops from the neighbouring state of Patiala and Hindu nationalist paramilitaries of the RSS arrive to bolster the Dogras.
Pakistan blocks supply into Kashmir. Indian Congress leaders put pressure on the Dogras to accede to India and release Abdullah. The Dogra maharaja wants to remain independent and has signed a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan, but India has refused to sign. As rebellion continues along the borders, on October 22, 1947, members of Afridi and other Pashtun groups begin to converge along the border and enter Baramulla to aid Kashmiris but falter without any clear leadership. T
he Maharaja flees the Kashmir valley and asks India for help. Indians demand he sign the Treaty of Accession and give power over Kashmir’s defence, foreign affairs, and communication to India. Abdullah is made Emergency Administrator and he sees Pashtuns as a threat. On October 26, Indian troops arrive in Srinagar and the next day Maharaja signs the treaty. Indian invasion pulls Pakistani troops in too. The first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir breaks out.
On November 21, Nehru says: “I have repeatedly stated that as soon as peace and order have been established; Kashmir should decide about accession by plebiscite or referendum under international auspices such as those of the United Nations. “In 1955, the Poonch uprising broke out. It was largely concentrated in areas of Rawalakot as well as the rest of the Poonch Division. It ended in 1956.
An area of Kashmir that was once under Pakistani control is the Shaksgam tract a small region along the northeastern border of the Northern Areas that was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China in 1963 and which now forms part of China’s Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang. The part of Kashmir administered by India currently is divided between Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
In 1972, the then-current border between Pakistan and India, which held areas of Kashmir, was designated as the “Line of Control”. The Line of Control has remained unchanged since the 1972 Simla Agreement, which bound the two countries “to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations.” Some claim that, in view of that pact, the only solution to the issue is mutual negotiation between the two countries without involving a third party, such as the United Nations. A devastating earthquake hit Azad Kashmir in 2005.
Jawaharlal Nehru, then Prime Minister of India asked the UN to intervene. The United Nations passed the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 and later United Nations Security Council Resolution 80, which asked both Pakistan and India to withdraw all their forces from Kashmir simultaneously. This was to be followed by a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the people of the entire state of Kashmir. However, the required withdrawal never happened.
The area which remained under the control of Pakistan is called Azad Kashmir. India took over two-thirds of Kashmir without withdrawing their forces. Pakistan citing India did not withdraw their forces also did not withdraw its forces from Kashmir and controls one-third of Kashmir. Elections were held for the 49-seat Legislative Assembly of Azad Kashmir on July 11 to the eighth Legislative Assembly since 1970 (seventh since 1974 when Pakistan granted the region a parliamentary system with the adult franchise). Azad Kashmir is categorised as an autonomous region, but critics claim titles such as Prime Minister and President for the region’s elected political leadership are misleading as candidates are required to sign an affidavit of allegiance to Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan.
On September 14, 1994, the Supreme Court of Azad Kashmir ruled that “the Northern areas are a part of J&K State but are not a part of Azad J&K as defined in the Interim Constitution Act 1974”. The Northern Areas presently have no officially named status in Pakistan. Pakistan does not consider this area as a “province” of Pakistan or as a part of “Azad Kashmir”. They are ruled directly from Islamabad through a Northern Areas Council.
A chief executive (usually a retired Pakistani army officer), appointed by Islamabad is the local administrative head. This area presently has no representatives in both the Azad Kashmir Assembly or Pakistan’s parliament. Northern Areas’ Legislative Council was created with a membership of 29 (later increased to 32), but its powers are restricted. On May 11, 2007, the NA’s chief executive, who also happens to be the Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Affairs, declared that the region had a right to be represented in the National Assembly.
Others demand that it should be given the status of a province. The changes made in 1994 in the local bodies’ ordinance gave more representation to women and delegated some administrative and financial powers to the local administration. However, the people of the region do not enjoy fundamental rights, because it continues to be governed by the Legal Framework Order of 1994.
Azad Kashmir Day celebrates the 1st day of the Azad Jammu Kashmir government, created on 24 October 1947.