Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) government on Tuesday warned Islamabad against direct execution of development schemes in the territory allegedly on recommendations of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers, terming it as "pre-poll rigging."
The warning that came 11 days after the issuance of a notification by the PaK Council regarding execution of development work in AJK is being seen as the "beginning of head-to-head battle" between the governments in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad.
"Recently, the Council has issued a notification wherein millions of rupees have been placed at the discretion of PML-N legislators for development work (in PaK) without taking the government and the concerned line departments in our state on board. This (move) amounts to committing pre-poll rigging which the people and the government (in PaK) will never allow," said Sardar Abid Hussain Abid, PaK minister for information, at a press conference here.
The minister was referring to the November 11 notification by the PaK Council secretariat which reads: "The competent authority has approved the execution of development schemes against Block Provision and development schemes under the Prime Minister Special Development Package for PaK territory by the Council's Development and Works Wing, with immediate effect."
The PaK Council is headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan as chairman and federal minister for Kashmir affairs happens to be its in-charge federal minister.
Though the notification did not mention any amount, Abid however claimed that as much as Rs 5.5 billion had been spared for the purpose.
"It is unprecedented in Council's history to directly execute development schemes, instead of the relevant line departments here," he said.
The move, he asserted, was not only a blatant violation of the PaK Interim Constitution Act 1974 but also reflected a sad departure from the past practices.
"I warn the Council to desist from this move or else we will use all possible means to forcibly stop it," Abid declared.
When asked to specify measures to stop direct execution of development schemes, he replied: "Whatever we can we will do to thwart implementation of this unlawful plan."
The minister maintained that it was the elected government in Muzaffarabad that enjoyed authority over the territory and not any other institution or body.
"I want to bring into the notice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that some shortsighted people around him are hell-bent upon creating anarchy-like situation in the State. It's not an issue of relations between the Peoples Party versus Muslim League but between the State (PaK) and Pakistan," he said.
He regretted that leader of the opposition Raja Farooq Haider had not only gone back on his words about the Council but was also "setting unhealthy traditions by hurling abuses on the government."
"It's not the question of individuals but of the offices which should be respected by all."
The PaK minister expressed hope that all other "ba-ghairat" political parties would also support the government's protest against Council's "unlawful practices."
It may be recalled that of late relationship between the federal and PaK governments are heading towards an angry showdown.
On November 25, the PaK cabinet had expressed discontent at the alleged arm-twisting by the central government through stoppage of funds, interference in PaK's internal administrative and political affairs and grant of PaK taxpayers' money to a particular political party as political bribe.