Healing AJK

Amid a backdrop of intense protests and violent clashes, the PM’s visit and his commitment to finding permanent solutions bring a glimmer of hope to the residents of AJK. The recent visit by Shehbaz Sharif is a commendable and significant step toward address­ing the long-standing issues faced by the region and its people.

In recent weeks, AJK has witnessed a wave of violent protests led by the JAAC since May 11 over a demand in price reductions. Despite the unrest, the government’s response, including the approval of Rs23 bil­lion in subsidies, has been pivotal in de-escalating the situation. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit is another positive development, re­flecting a commitment to resolving these pressing issues.

During his visit, the PM emphasized the need for a permanent solu­tion to the challenges faced by AJK’s residents. He ordered the formation of a committee to address critical issues such as water charges and the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant. The Prime Minister stressed the im­portance of mutual understanding and collaboration between the feder­al and AJK governments. It is imperative that we abandon the approach of resolving immediate concerns, and instead adopt preventative mea­sures to prevent such protests from recurring in the future. The forma­tion of these committees are steps in the right direction here. Sharif also acknowledged the genuine demands of the protesters and condemned the actions of miscreants who attempted to incite violence. His an­nouncement of support for the families of those killed during the clash­es under the Shuhada Package is a necessary and compassionate step to assure the people of AJK that the nation is standing beside them through and through. That being said, an inquiry into the violence and a commit­ment to transparency are essential to heal the wounds and restore trust between the government and the people of AJK. Additionally, the signing of a MoU for a new Hydropower Project signifies a forward-looking strat­egy to enhance the region’s infrastructure and energy resources.

While all these steps are commendable, we must ensure that visible progress can be made in these areas rather than simply making emp­ty promises. This is the nation’s reaffirmation of its commitment to the people of AJK and IOK, and it needs to be substantiated. Stability in the region is not only vital for the residents but also for Pakistan’s inter­national image. Continuous engagement will be essential in upholding the dignity and self-determination of the Kashmiri people.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt