In a recent update on the ongoing protest in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir against the amendment to the Constitution, former PoK Prime Minister, Farooq Haider said that “all the arrangements to pass the amendments and make PoK a province have been finalised, and only a strong protest can save the territory becoming part of Pakistan.”

Massive protests have erupted in Muzaffarabad and other cities across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir against the Pakistan government’s plan to bring in the 15th amendment to fix the Constitutional Status of the occupied territory.

The protesters burnt tyres and blocked highways to raise their anger. They chanted slogans against joining Pakistan, against the constitutional amendment and demanded freedom from Pakistan.

PoK is a self-governing region with a President, Prime Minister and official flag, but it is controlled by Islamabad through the Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and an elected body, the Kashmir Council, headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The citizens of all 10 districts of the region are infuriated at the government’s move. These protests have taken a turn for the worse in Rawalakot, Bagh, Poonch, Muzaffarabad, and Neelum Valley among other areas of PoK.

Harjap Singh writing for Daily Sikh said that since July 1, women and children have been sitting on roads for several days in the region shouting freedom slogans and demanding the Army return to the barracks.

Citizens have known the agony of living under the thumb of the Pakistani government before the introduction of the 13th amendment. They have been denied dignity in living.

He said that the area of Poonch is experiencing a curfew-like situation and a partial shutdown of internet service in some areas. Roads are closed for all types of vehicles owing to the burning of tyres and Pakistan’s mainstream media is forbidden to cover these scenes.

Protests in the Khaigala area of Poonch were quietened through the use of force and indiscriminate open firing. The injured protesters were denied medical attention while a few unfortunates died on spot. Authorities did not disclose the death toll, Harjap wrote.

The Pakistan government, in June 2018, introduced the 13th Amendment that gave PoK the right to control the financial and administrative issues including making laws and collecting tax, excluding corporate tax.

However, the power to elect the superior court judges, chief election Commissioner and emergency provisions remained in the hands of the Prime Minister of the country.

According to a local media report, details revealed in the proposed draft of the 15th amendment show that the terms ‘State’ will be replaced with ‘Azad Jammu Kashmir’ and the mention of United Nations’ is going to be replaced with the words ‘subject to recognition’ from the so-called 1974 interim constitution of PoK.

All financial powers will be transferred from the government of PoK to Pakistan thus practically degrading PoK to the level of a provincial entity.

This will be the 24th attempt of the Pakistan government to determine the constitutional status of the region, in the last 75 years.

However, the long resistance of the people, who termed this amendment a conspiracy to dilute the identity of PoK, has failed the plans of the Pakistan government over time.