Abrupt Replacement of ISI Sector Commander in Gilgit-Baltistan & Kashmir
Elections will be held in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) on July 25, 2021. And like the earlier sham elections in POK, the Pakistan Army has made all arrangements to rig the voting process and install puppets as representative of Kashmiris through this electoral process.
The first step towards electoral theft in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is the hurried transfer of Brigadier Naeem Malik, ISI’s Sector Commander for Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir. Rawalpindi has appointed Brigadier Nadeem as the new Sector Commander of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir barely a few days before the actual voting in POK.
This sudden replacement of ISI’s Sector Commander for POK and Gilgit-Baltistan came to light when a local newspaper in Muzaffarabad published this news. The news daily explained that Pakistan Army announced this abrupt change of guard because it found Brig Nadeem to be more subservient to diktats from Rawalpindi. The very next day this local newspaper was shut down and editors and journalists started receiving death threats from ISI.
Rawalpindi sources said that Brig Naeem Malik was planting his own people in POK’s government set up and was giving PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) tickets to several of his own candidates. General Qamar Javed Bajwa took stern action against Brig Naeem Malik and fired him for misusing powers.
Through the removal of Brig Naeem Malik as ISI’s Sector Commander in Gilgit-Baltistan and POK the Pakistan Army is trying to give an impression to the local Kashmiris and the international community that Rawalpindi is maintaining transparency in local elections and the electoral process in POK.
All of this is an eyewash, however.
It must be noted that Pakistan Army has full authority and control over the distribution of PTI election tickets. Even during the 2018 general elections in Pakistan all PTI tickets were distributed under the supervision of army in which Imran Khan had no involvement.
Brig Naeem Malik was removed only because he was working against the diktats of Pakistan Army generals and the ISI. Brig Naeem Malik had been tasked to distribute tickets of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf PTI) and to ensure that PTI wins in POK elections. However, he overstepped his role and that angered Gen Bajwa.
Brig Naeem Malik provided constitutional space to Raja Farooq Haider, the puppet prime minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and a PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) politician. With Brig Naeem Mailk’s help Raja Farooq Haider was successful in bringing a constitutional amendment which curtailed the role of Pakistan in appointment of POK High Court judges. This was unacceptable to Rawalpindi as it went against its policy of keeping Kashmir under tight grip.
Brig Naeem Malik was given marching orders and replaced with compliant Brig Nadeem as the Sector Commander in Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Ali Amin Gandapur’s armed militia in POK
A local armed tribal militia led by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur has also been formed under the supervision of Pakistan Army. The mandate of this tribal militia is to steal the elections in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Though local Kashmiris have rejected Ali Amin Gandapur in toto, he is still working through back channels to rig the July 25 elections.
Ali Amin Gandapur armed militia has been intimidating local Kashmiris to vote for candidates propped by Rawalpindi. This armed lashkar (militia) is working towards integrating Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan by backing the candidates of their choice in the July 25 POK elections. However, the local Kashmiris have been resisting Pakistan Army’s dubious game of snatching away the people’s right to vote. Amin Gandapur was stopped and stones pelted on him and on his armed goons from the mountains by the local Kashmiris. In response, Federal Minister Amin Gandapur and his armed lashkar opened fire on Kashmiris.
After this firing incident the Kashmiris across Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir started protests against the armed forces. In Muzaffarabad and Poonch divisions, this tribal armed army of Amin Gandapur is facing stiff resistance.
Meanwhile, the puppet prime minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) announced a sit-in at Islamabad against this attack, while Barrister Sultan president of the Kashmir chapter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) began debating the issue in his private meetings.
This protest drama by puppet politicians is a well thought over move to control the POK electoral process, deprive local Kashmiris of their voting rights and to hurt their self esteem.
POK’s puppet prime minister Raja Farooq Haider threatened in a press conference that if direct interference of Imran Khan and his ministers in Kashmir elections is not stopped, he will be forced to go to Islamabad. “Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet colleagues are brazenly violating the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. I want to put my case before the people of Pakistan,” Farooq Haider said during the press conference in Muzaffarabad.
Election Commission officials in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir banned Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur from attending rallies and giving speeches in Kashmir. Election Commission’s decision came in the backdrop of Gandapur’s firing on local Kashmiris, distribution of money in election meetings and use of abusive language in rallies.
In a letter to the chief secretary, the Election Commission said that Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur was constantly violating election laws in Kashmir. “He (Ali Amin Gandapur) is deliberately influencing the Kashmir elections in a negative way. As a result, he is immediately banned from participating in election campaigns and rallies in Pakistan-administered Kashmir,” said the POK Election Commission in its note to chief secretary.
The Election Commission further added that actions of Gandapur is creating law and order issues and there’s a constant fear about the loss of human lives in Kashmir.
Earlier an FIR was also lodged against Ali Amin Gandapur for violating the model code of conduct. During an election campaign in Kashmir a video of Gandapur had surfaced on social media where he was seen as openly distributing money among people and was asking them to vote for candidates backed by Rawalpindi.
Rawalpindi’s game to rig July 25 elections in POK
Pakistan Army conducts these sham elections in the areas of Kashmir illegally occupied by it, only to tighten its grip over the region. In the July 25 elections, a total of 22,37,058 Kashmiri voters are expected to cast their votes for 29 constituencies of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), while 4,44,634 voters will cast their votes for the 12 constituencies of refugees. According to the model code of conduct issued for these elections, each candidate can spend up to Rs 2 million on elections and up to Rs 500,000 on personal expenses. All these directives remain merely on paper and the ruling PTI and Pakistan Army have been distributing huge cache of money in order to swing, rather rig, the electoral results in their favour.
The PML-N, PPP and PTI have fielded their candidates in these elections but the local Kashmiris have been saying that it’s certain that the ruling PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf) will win, simply because it has the backing of Pakistan Army.
Public circles in POK is abuzz with talks that several local Kashmiri leaders of the PTI have been completely ignored in ticket distribution. Poonch’s Sardar Abdul Hameed Khan while talking to reporters said that persons who had been abusing Imran Khan and PTI for the last five years were given PTI tickets while those who had been working for the betterment of Kashmiris have been ignored. This clearly shows that none of the PTI leaders, including Prime Minister Imran Khan had any say in candidate selection from their party. Only the diktat from Pakistan Army decides the electoral candidates and also the election results.
The Pakistan Army has also helped register a political outfit “Tehreek-e-Jawanan Pakistan Jammu and Kashmir. This political party has been floated by Abdullah Gul, who is the son of former ISI chief Hamid Gul. Abdullah Gul is neck deep into islamic extremism, drugs and criminal activities. Abdullah Gul has been fielded as a candidate from LA-19 constituency. It is expected that Tehreek Jawanan will be “given” some seats in this sham July 25 POK elections and in return Abdullah Gul will help tighten Rawalpindi’s grip over POK.
Rules have been framed in the Election Commission under which only those parties which are in favour of POK’s accession to Pakistan accession can be registered and contest elections. All nationalist and liberal parties of POK have been prohibited from participating in the July 25 elections.
Leader of Jammu and Kashmir People’s National Party Habib-ur-Rehman said that they wanted to participate in the elections but Election Commission announced convoluted rules which debarred nationalist political parties. He strongly condemned the new laws.
Habib-ur-Rehman added that Pakistan was enacting certain laws on its occupied territory that ensured that liberals were not able to participate in elections. The Pakistani government wants to maintain its dominance under this double standard and continue to plunder Kashmir’s resources, said Rehman.
The July 25 elections in Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir is merely an exercise to install new puppets in various government positions of occupied Jammu Kashmir. The selection of electoral candidates, conduct of elections and rigging of voting process is all being done to ensure that only those candidates who are subservient to the senior most coterie of Pakistan Army are elected, nay selected.
The local Kashmiris across Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir understand the sham of these elections and are angry at these sham electoral process. They are criticising Pakistan Army and its dirty deeds, but the Pakistani generals are least bothered about the opinion of Kashmiris.
Under the pretext of maintaining law and order in Kashmir, a total of about 43,500 personnel of the Pakistan Army, Police and Civil Armed Forces from other Pakistani provinces have been deployed for these elections.
Around 12,000 armed personnel from Punjab Police, 10,000 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1,000 from Islamabad Police, 400 from Frontier Constabulary and 3,000 Rangers have been deployed across Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir to maintain law and order. Apart from this, these personnel will also get the support of over 7,000 soldiers of Pakistan Army, who have been deputed especially for July 25 elections.
It is certain that the Kashmiri’s right to vote in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) will be robbed in the July 25 elections, just as the generals robbed the Pakistani’s right to vote in 2018 general elections of Pakistan.