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PPP expresses concerns over Sartaj Aziz bill for Act 74 amendments

S. A Haidri;

Muzaffarabad: Pakistan People’s Party Azad Jammu and Kashmir (PPP AJK) chapter has expressed serious concerns on the Sartaj Aziz Committee bill to be presented for long awaited amendments in the AJK interim constitution Act 1974.
While addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, PPP AJK President Ch. Latif Akbar said that PPP do not reject this amendment bill, but our party have some reservations on the bill draft which are obligatory to address, saying that the present draft of PML-N can change the independent State definition to a provincial status besides causing enormous loss to ongoing freedom movement in Indian held Kashmir.
He said, “AJK interim constitution Act 1974 was drafted by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with joint consensus of all political parties and stake holders of that time within the State; present government of AJK must involve all political parties on this important and much anticipated initiative.”
He reiterated that PPP in 2012 after the joint session of AJK Council and Legislative Assembly on 7th February formed a committee comprised of members form all political parties including Azhar Gillani, Mian Abdul Waheed, Muhammad Saleem Butt, Ch. Tariq Farooq, Sardar Muhammad Sayyab Khalid, Malik Muhammad Nawaz, Ch. Muhammad Mehboob, and Barrister Iftikhar Gillani led by Matloob Inqabali.
“Prime Minister of Pakistan besides Prime Minister of AJK must consider all political parties of the State before any amendments in AJK interim constitution Act 1974” Akbar maintained. Latif Akbar stressed that the draft bill which was designed with the joint unanimity in 2012 should be considered instead of Sartaj Aziz bill which may change the definition of “independent State”.
Talking on the appointment of judges in Supreme Court and High Court in AJK, President PPP stated that the addition made in section 41-A of 1974 Act will include Chief Justices of Supreme Court and High Court including Minister for Law, Advocate General, Secretary Law and Vice Chairman AJK bar Council while we have set separate commissions for Supreme Court and High Court having 5 members for Supreme court and additional 2 members for the appointment of judges in High court and Sharia court.
“Commission proposed in our draft was improved than present as our proposed commission could not be influenced politically, whereas in Sartaj Aziz bill, four members of the committee can be directly influenced by any political party in authority for the appointment of new judges” Akbar said.
He also raised questions on the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) that with the substitution of section 50, the advice for the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner would be forwarded to PM Pakistan after the consultation of PM AJK with opposition leader, however in our joint draft, appointment of CEC shall be made by parliamentary committee which shall consist of six members, two from elected members of AJK Council and four from Assembly and the nomination shall be made with the consultation of PM AJK and opposition leader.
Moreover, Latif Akbar also cleared that Sartaj Aziz bill is not in the favor of the masses of Kashmir, it will seize rights of the people of AJK rather than empowerment.
He added that the all legislation made by AJK assembly besides Kashmir Council, PM Pakistan acts as chairman of Kashmir Council for these lawmaking and it demonstrates AJK as a liberated State having separate administrative arrangement but when if Sartaj Aziz bill came into force then it will confiscate the independent authority of the State.
Latif Akbar stated that government should call an All Parties Conference (APC) before these amendments and after the consultation with all political parties within the State, a comprehensive and edited bill should be prepared for this more than 4 decades long awaited amended bill as PPP support amendments that actually empower the State.

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