Azad Kashmir

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Urdu: آزاد جموں و کشمیر‎ Azad Jammu o Kashmir, abbreviated AJK) or, for short, Azad Kashmir (literally "Free Kashmir") is the southernmost political entity within the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It borders the present-day Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to the east (separated from it by the Line of Control), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to the west, Gilgit-Baltistan to the north, and the Punjab province to the south. With its capital at Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir covers an area of 13,297 square kilometres (5,134 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about four million. Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan together constitute the region referred to as "Pakistani-controlled Kashmir" by the United Nations[2][3] and other international organisations and as "Pakistan-occupied Kashmir" in India,[4] in contrast to the name "Indian-occupied Kashmir", which is given by Pakistan to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The territories have been under the control of the two countries since the first Kashmir war, after which the area of Azad Jammu and Kashmir was successfully captured from the princely state by rebelling militias with the help of the Pakistani Army.

History

At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, the British abandoned their suzerainty over the princely states, which were left with the options of joining India or Pakistan or remaining independent. Hari Singh, the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted his state to remain independent. In order to buy some time, he signed a stand-still agreement, which sidestepped the encouragement of the princely states to join either India or Pakistan.[5] Later, there was a revolution by Muslims in the western part of the state,[6] as raiders from what was then the North-West Frontier Province and the tribal areas feared that Hari Singh might accede to the Union of India. In October 1947, they attacked Kashmir in an attempt to take control of the princely state. Initially, Hari Singh tried to resist their progress but failed. He then requested the military help of India, which responded that it would not help him unless he acceded to India. On October 26, 1947, Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession,[7] and Indian troops were immediately airlifted into Srinagar. Pakistan intervened subsequently.[6] Fighting ensued between the Indian and Pakistani armies, with the two areas of control stabilized, more or less, around what is now known as the "Line of Control".[8] Later, India approached the United Nations, asking it to solve the dispute, and resolutions were passed in favour of the holding of a plebiscite with regard to Kashmir's future. However, no such plebiscite has ever been held on either side, since there was a precondition which required the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army along with the non-state elements and the subsequent partial withdrawal of the Indian Army. [9] from the parts of Kashmir under their respective control – a withdrawal that never took place.[10] In 1949, a cease-fire line separating the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir was formally put into effect. Following the 1949 cease-fire agreement, the government of Pakistan divided the northern and western parts of Kashmir which it held into the following two separately-controlled political entities: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) – the narrow, southern part, 250 miles (400 km) long, with a width varying from 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 km). Gilgit–Baltistan formerly called the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) – the much larger area to the north of AJK, 72,496 square kilometres (27,991 sq mi). It was directly administered by Pakistan as a de facto dependent territory, i.e., a non-self-governing territory. However, it was ostensibly granted "full autonomy" on August 29, 2009.[11] An area of Kashmir that was once under Pakistani control is the Shaksgam tract, a small region along the northeastern border of Gilgit-Baltistan that was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People's Republic of China in 1963 and which now forms part of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. In 1972, the then-current border between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir was designated as the "Line of Control". The Line of Control has remained unchanged[12] since the 1972 Simla Agreement, which bound the two countries "to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations". Some political experts claim that, in view of that pact, the only solution to the issue is mutual negotiation between the two countries without involving a third party such as the United Nations. A devastating earthquake hit Azad Kashmir in 2005. Kashmir related holidays

Azad Kashmir Day is celebrated in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on October 24th, which is the day that the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government was created in 1947. Pakistan has celebrated Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5th of each year since 1990 as a day of protest against India's control of the major part of Jammu and Kashmir.[13] That day is a national holiday in Pakistan.[14]

Government

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is a self-governing state under Pakistani control, but under Pakistan's constitution the state is not actually part of Pakistan.[1][15] Azad Kashmir has its own elected president, prime minister, legislature, high court, and official flag. The state has it own judiciary, as well, with Khawaja Shahad Ahmad as its present chief justice. The government of Pakistan has not yet allowed Azad Kashmir to issue its own postage stamps. Stamps of Pakistan are used, instead. Azad Kashmir's financial matters, i.e., budget and tax affairs, are dealt with by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council rather than by Pakistan's Central Board of Revenue. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council is a supreme body consisting of 11 members, six from the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and five from the government of Pakistan. Its chairman/chief executive is the president of Pakistan. Other members of the council are the president and the prime minister of Azad Kashmir and a few other AJK ministers.[1][15] The human rights of the inhabitants of Azad Kashmir have been the subject of controversy. Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in 2006, "Although ‘azad’ means ‘free,’ the residents of Azad Kashmir are anything but. The Pakistani authorities govern Azad Kashmir with strict controls on basic