In a statement issued by his office, the President said that political parties and forces should forge unity and evolve a just formula which would give administrative and financial powers to the Azad Kashmir Government, devolve greater administrative authority to the Government of the Azad State of Jammu and Kashmir, and further strengthen relations between Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.
Sardar Masood Khan has said that the reform of the AJK Council has been a popular demand of the people and now it is moving towards fruition. Recently, he said, momentous developments have taken place in regard to FATA and Gilgit Baltistan; and AJK would not be left behind. These are historic transformations, which would have far-reaching, positive impact all around, he said.
The President said that two concerns regarding the Council reforms, namely, linkage with Pakistan and likely impact on the status of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute have been addressed. He added that residual issues are also being addressed.
With the reformed Council, the people of Azad Kashmir would be empowered and play their legitimate role as a base camp for a vigorous struggle for the realization of the right to self-determination of the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir.
He said that as the reform of the Council reflects the popular sentiment, it would lead to a win-win solution for all, give more dignity and traction to the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and make it more resourceful.
He highlighted that a reformed Council should lead to the accelerated development of Azad Kashmir’s infrastructure, health and education sectors, water supply, industry and agriculture.
The President commended the efforts of the Azad Government led by Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and the Federal Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi which have worked hard and collaboratively in evolving a reform package that would address the concerns of all and would come up with constructive dispensation for the people of Azad Kashmir.
President AJK said that the Council reform also signals that while the state of Azad Kashmir is empowered and gaining administrative and greater financial autonomy, the people of the Indian Occupied Kashmir are being denied their fundamental rights, their liberties are being curbed and their political space is being squeezed. The Indian Occupied Kashmir is being treated as a colony, where the people are being brutalized, he said.