By Muhammad Aslam & M. Shafique Raja
MUZAFFARABAD, July 17 (APP): The parliamentary system in Azad Jammu and Kashmir is going to get further maturity as people of the State are all set to exercise their right to vote on July 21 and elect their representatives for the 10th democratic tenure of the 49 seat Legislative Assembly in almost 46 years since 1970.
The first AJK government, established on October 24, 1947 was working like a ‘war council’ under the Rules of Business to run the administration of the state, with all executive and legislative authority vested in the president.
The democratic setup was introduced in 1970 under the
presidential system on the basis of adult franchise when Sardar Mohammad Abdul Qayyum Khan took over the charge of first elected President as head of the government and state as well.
For the first time, the AJK people and the refugees of Jammu
and Kashmir settled in Pakistan exercised their right to vote and elected the Legislative Assembly, consisted of 24 members and one co opted lady member, and the president, which worked for four years, according to the official data available with APP.
Later in 1974, some major constitutional changes were made when the interim constitution Act, 1974, was adopted and Parliamentary system of democracy was introduced in the state.
The first elected Assembly completed its tenure and approved 56 bills mostly pertaining to religious matters and public importance, besides passing several resolutions for welfare of the public.
The second Assembly came into existence in 1975 under the
Interim Constitution Act, 1974, which has undergone 11 amendments so far. For the first time in the history of AJK Parliamentary system was introduced and Prime Minister, as the executive head of the state, was elected by majority votes of the assembly. Khan Abdul Hameed Khan was elected as first Prime Minister of AJK and Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan as President. The Assembly consisted of 42 members, among them 40 members were elected by the people of AJK and refugees settled in Pakistan, and two co opted ladies members.
The Assembly worked for two years and was suspended in August 1977, due to the enforcement of Martial Law in Pakistan.
This house, in a short span of two years, worked diligently
and showed tremendous results by approving 51 bills and passed the resolutions on Kashmir issue and on many other matters concerning the public.
On dissolution of the Assembly, Brigadier Muhammad Hayat Khan was appointed as Chief Executive on October 31, 1978, who remained in office up to January 31, 1983 with all the exclusive powers.
Later, Maj. General ® Abdul Rehman was appointed as
President/ Chief Executive on February 1, 1983 and continued till September 30, 1985.
The democratic system remained suspended up to 1985, when the Martial Law was lifted and civil setup was established in Pakistan.
Following which, the elections for AJK LA were held and Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan took over the charge as the Prime Minister and Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan as the President of the state.
This Assembly was elected for five years and worked till 1990.
During the given mandated democratic term, it approved 109 bills and passed resolutions on various subjects. The constitution was amended and six more seats of the assembly were approved. It contained 48 members out of which 40 members were elected and 8 seats were reserved for the members elected by the assembly. Five seats were reserved forladies, one for technocrats, one for Overseas Kashmiris and one for Ulema and Mashaikh.
The elections for fourth Assembly were held in 1990. Raja
Mumtaz Hussain Rathore was elected as Prime Minister while Sardar Mohammad Abdul Qayyum Khan elected as the President.
The government remained in power only for one year because the then Prime Minister dissolved the assembly, which could not make any legislation except passing resolutions on various subjects including the Kashmir issue.
The fifth assembly took birth 1991. Sardar Muhammad Abdul
Qayyum Khan was elected as the Prime Minister and Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan as the President. This Assembly completed its five year tenure, during which the legislators worked tremendously and approved 145 bills and passed the resolutions on Kashmir and other matters of public importance.
During the period, many delegations of different countries,
especially America, Britain and other European countries visited Azad Kashmir.
Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry and Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan became the prime minister and president, respectively as a result of the general elections held in 1996.
The AJK LA approved 44 bills and passed many resolutions about Kashmir issue and other public concerning matters.
The seventh Assembly came into being on July 5, 2001, and
elected Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan as Prime Minister and Maj. General ® Sardar Mohammad Anwar Khan as President by the joint sitting of the assembly and council.
This assembly approved 78 bills and has the honour of having been addressed (joint sessions of Assembly and Council) by the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan on various occasions. The house made amendment in the constitution and approved one more seat, bringing the total number of legislatures from 48 to 49.
The general election for Eighth Assembly were held on July 11, 2006 , which elected Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan as the Prime Minister and Raja Zulqarnain Khan as the President.
During this tenure, people of AJK witnessed several but rare
in house changes for the prime minister, as from January 7, 2009 to October 22, 2009 Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan was elected as the prime minister, from October 23, 2009 to July 29, 2010 Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan remained the prime minister and then again Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan was elected as the prime minister from July 29, 2010 to July 6, 2011.
The general elections for the ninth and current outgoing
assembly were held on June 26, 2011, following which Chaudhry Abdul Majeed was elected the Prime Minister and Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan as President.
Now, the people of Kashmir are going to elect their
representatives for the 10th assembly on July 21. Tough contest is expected among AJK’s major political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Azad Kashmir All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference coalition.
As many as 427 candidates, belonging to various political
parties as well as independent ones are in the run for the upcoming AJK Legislative Assembly elections.
According to the final list issued by the AJK Election
Commission 328 contestants will be vying from 29 constituencies of AJK’s nine districts, while 99 will be competing from 12 constituencies of Kashmiri refugees, spread over four provinces of Pakistan.