Stability First

After weeks of unrest and the federal government’s Rs. 23 billion relief package, Zardari decisively rejected a proposal to initiate an in-house change in the AJK Assembly, a prudent decision that will be crucial for the region’s stability.

The only reason AJK has achieved a semblance of peace was the federal government’s prompt intervention and subsequent negotiations. However, the tragic deaths from the protests reignited tensions, prompting calls for deeper systemic reforms, particularly from PTI and its inflammatory rhetoric. In this volatile context, President Zardari’s advice against toppling the AJK government is wise. The PTI’s call for new elections, branding the current AJK PM Chaudhry Anwarul Haq a “puppet,” is only going to deepen the existing divisions and prolong instability. The last thing we need right now is to hold new elections and reopen old wounds that will only polarize the populace. For now, the focus should and seems to be on the recovery of the region.

Instead, the federal government and AJK leadership must build on the success of the relief package by working collaboratively with the JAAC and the existing AJK government. This is not just about AJK; this is a broader signal to the rest of the nation that political discord will not supersede a commitment to dialogue. Additionally, this display of political maturity should be substantiated by the formation of committees to address AJK’s long-standing issues like their hydropower plant in order to build towards sustainable development. Actions will speak louder than words here. The PPP leadership’s decision to support the current government, rather than push for an in-house change, sets a precedent for cooperative governance moving forward. This is not to say that AJK’s leadership should never change. A change in governance may even be beneficial for the region, but the ill-timed nature of this move is what has made the president and other stakeholders feel strongly opposed. Once again, the focus right now should be to work with what we have and recover as much as possible.

Reaffirming our commitment to the people of AJK and IOK is crucial at this juncture. The dignity and self-determination of the Kashmiri people must remain at the forefront of our national agenda moving forward. Ensuring that grievances are addressed through dialogue and democratic processes will not only strengthen our position on the global stage but also protect our national interests.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt