Protest in Muzaffarabad against Federal Minister
Muzaffarabad, Feb 4: Dozens of civil society activists staged a protest demonstration along a bustling thoroughfare here on Monday, calling upon the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan to take stock of “unlawful inductions in the Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) Council at the hands of its in-charge federal minister Manzoor Wattoo for electoral purposes.”
Holding banners and placards, the demonstrators, who included traders, lawyers and community leaders, assembled outside the press club and chanted slogans against Wattoo for “abusing his position” and called upon PaK’s leadership to rise to the occasion to secure the rights of deserving persons.
The demonstration was triggered by reports that the PaK Council Secretariat had omitted the condition of ‘state subject certificate’ for the applicants for vacant posts in its secretariat in Islamabad and in some of the departments under its administrative control.
It may be mentioned here that the PaK residents and Kashmiri refugees settled in Pakistan are recognised by a ‘state subject certificate,’ issued by the PaK authorities under the laws enforced in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in April 1927 and June 1932.
The protestors alleged that Wattoo was not only bent upon making these recruitments from his constituency in the Punjab but he was also spending resources of PaK Council to woo voters, ahead of Pakistan’s general elections.
It may be noted here the main source of PaK Council’s income is the 20 per cent of the income tax generated from the PaK territory. Besides, the Council generates revenues from other levies as well, such as license fees on cellular networks operating in the PaK territory.
“This is our blood (taxes) which is being dished out for electoral purposes in Pakistan. The CEC of Pakistan should take an immediate stock of it,” said Zahid Amin, one of the organisers of the demonstration.
Employees of the PaK Council run departments provided documents to Greater Kashmir on the occasion which revealed that the PaK Council secretariat had shown blatant disregard to the stay orders granted by the PaK High Court (HC) in the recruitment matter.
According to the documents, on October 19, 2012, the PaK Council secretariat had advertised 9 junior grade posts without mentioning the condition of ‘state subject’ for the applicants.
On being challenged by advocate Fazal Mehmood Baig, the PaK HC directed, on December 28, 2012, for maintenance of status quo in the matter. The status quo was renewed by the HC on January 18, 2013, besides serving notices on the PaK Council to file objections and arguments by or before the next date of hearing on February 7.
On November 14, 2012, the PaK Council secretariat advertised 10 more posts in B-17 and B-16 for contractual appointments, once again making no mention of state-subject in the eligibility column.
The second move was also challenged by one Sajjad Hussain Shah in the PaK HC. The court admitted the petition for regular hearing on December 13 and ordered maintenance of status quo. The second petition comes up for hearing on February 12.
However, in a blatant disregard to both orders, the PaK Council secretariat had issued call letters to some candidates for interviews.
Copies of two such call letters, issued on January 30 and directing the applicants to appear for interviews in Islamabad on February 6, were available with Greater Kashmir.
“They (PaK Council) don’t respect even our courts and are shamelessly going ahead with loot and plunder of our resources… This is too much,” regretted Anjam Nisar Mir, president of the Muzaffarabad’s Bar Association.
Civil society leader Khalid Mughal warned that the situation could compel the PaK residents to stage a long march on the PaK Council secretariat in Islamabad.
Demonstrators also criticised the PaK government for keeping a mum.
“It’s very unfortunate that while the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the CEE are oblivious to the abuse of our resources, our own government is also behaving as a silent spectator due to its political compulsions,” lamented Mir advocate Fazal Mehmood Baig.
This correspondent tried to reach PaK Council’s new joint secretary for comments but he was not available.
The new JS, Captain (retired) Fazeel Asghar, was brought in by Wattoo on February 1, after relieving Jamil Ahmed who was said to be in disagreement with his decisions.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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