With the election of Maj.Gen.Sardar Mohammad Anwar Khan, former Vice-Chief of the General Staff, as the so-called President of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) on August 1,2001, POK has been brought under virtual military rule, with Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan, the elected Prime Minister, reduced to a figurehead. Maj.Gen. Anwar Khan had earlier taken premature retirement from the Army on July 30,2001, to enable him to contest the election.
As already reported, Maj.Gen.Anwar Khan, of the Sudhan tribe, is believed to be related to Lt.Gen.Mohammad Aziz Khan, one of the two Corps Commanders at Lahore, who is the clandestine Chief of Staff of Pakistan’s Army of Islam, consisting of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the Al Badr, of the East Pakistan notoriety.
Maj.Gen.Anwar Khan has been operating more from the GHQ in Rawalpindi than from Muzaffarabad, the capital of POK, and has already started imposing his will on the POK administration. He rejected a proposal from Sikandar Hayat Khan for the inclusion of Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, son of Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan of the Muslim Conference, in his Cabinet.
Gen.Pervez Musharraf, the self-reinstated Chief of the Army Staff, the self-styled Chief Executive and the self-promoted President of Pakistan, has been unhappy over the statements issued by Qayyum Khan last year welcoming the initiatives of Mr.A.B.Vajpayee, the Indian Prime Minister, for peace in Jammu & Kashmir. He had earlier ruled out the election of Qayyum Khan as the President of the POK and has now made Maj.Gen.Anwar Khan disapprove the inclusion of his son as a Minister.
The swearing-in of the new Cabinet was delayed by a fortnight since Maj.Gen.Anwar Khan wanted the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Muree, Major General Shahid Aziz, to clear all the names before they were sworn in. Ultimately, a Cabinet consisting of the following eight members was announced on the night of August 13, 2001: Syed Mumtaz Ali Gilani and Mufti Mansoor from Muzaffarabad, Sardar Ameer Akbar Khan from Bagh, Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob Khan from Rawalakot, Raja Nisar Ahmad Khan from Kotli, Chaudhry Masood Khalid from Mirpur, Shah Gulam Qadir and Hafiz Raza. The place of origin of the last two Ministers is not known.
It is reported that while the pay and allowances of the first six Ministers would be paid from the budget of the POK, which is actually prepared by Abbas Sarfaraz Khan, Federal Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas Affairs, and got approved by the so-called Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council presided over by Musharraf, those of the last two would be met partly from the budget of the ISI-run Kashmir Liberation Cell and partly from the zakat fund. The reasons for this difference are not clear.
Maj.Gen.Anwar Khan, who has reportedly been entrusted with the task of intensifying the terrorist activities of the jehadi organisation in J & K, has already had separate meetings with the United Jehad Council headed by Syed Salahuddin of the Hizbul Mujahideen and the leaders of the constitutent units of the Army of Islam. Both the meetings were reportedly held in the Kashmir House in Islamabad.
He is also reported to have already ordered a series of measures to revamp the working of the Muzaffarabad-based Kashmir Liberation Cell—such as stepping up its psywar activities through radio, TV and Internet with greater focus on audio recordings and video clips recording the intifada of the Palestinians against Israel in order to motivate the Kashmiris to emulate the Palestinians, greater co-ordination of the ground operations etc.
He has also taken up the priority task of pressurising the local leadership, administration, non-governmental organisations and public opinion to give up their opposition to the proposal initiated by the Musharraf Government last year to increase the height of the Mangla Dam in order to make more water and electricity available to the farmers of Punjab.
There were widespread demonstrations against the proposal all over the POK last year and the previous Government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) headed by the then Prime Minister, Barrister Sultan Mahmud Chaudhury, had also strongly opposed it.
There was a running dispute between the former POK Government and the military junta in Islamabad over the following questions:
* The Federal Government’s failure to share with the POK administration the profits from the Mangla Dam constructed in POK territory for the benefit of the farmers and electricity consumers of Punjab in the 1960s. A spokesman of the previous PPP Government in Muzaffarabad said: “Mangla Dam, one of the major projects of the country, is constructed within the territorial limits of AJ&K (Azad Jammu & Kashmir) and the net profit earned by the authority (the Water and Power Development Authority of Pakistan ) from the dam should have been shared with the Government of AJK, but WAPDA did not do so.” He also said that the WAPDA had earned a net profit of Rs 87,772,560 million from the Mangla Dam since its commissioning, but it had not shared a single rupee out of this with the POK Government.
* Reimbursement to the POK Government of the expenditure incurred by it on the construction of the power transmission and distribution network inside the POK. According to the previous PPP Government, “the agreement signed by the WAPDA and the AJK government at the time of the dam’s construction had provided that the construction of the power supply infrastructure in AJK was the liability of WAPDA, but WAPDA could not do so. Consequently, the AJ&K government completed this job by incurring an amount of Rs 3500 million from its own pocket and also maintained the same.” The previous PPP Government was demanding that this amount should have been reimbursed to it by the Federal Government, which it has not done so.
* The refusal of the previous PPP Government to pay to the WAPDA outstanding dues amounting to Rs 1,567 million for the period ending March 2001. The WAPDA has been claiming this for the power supplied by it to the consumers in the POK.
* The refusal of the previous PPP Government to pay General Sales Tax on the power supplied by the WAPDA on the ground that the WAPDA had no jurisdiction to levy GST in POK territory.
In a statement issued on August 6,2001, the President of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation League (JKLL) and former Chief Justice of the POK High Court, Abdul Majeed Malick, said there was no justification for raising the level of the Mangla Dam. He added:”The people of Mirpur should not be disturbed once again and if there is a water crisis in Pakistan, then the Federal Government should construct the Kalabagh Dam (outside the POK).”He disputed the WAPDA’s claim that only 40,000 people would be displaced as a result of the extension and asserted that around 100,000 people would be displaced and two tehsils of district Mirpur would be submerged. He pointed out that the people of the POK, who were displaced by the original construction of the dam in the 1960s, had not been provided with any relief so far. According to him, they were promised alternate land in Punjab, but this promise was never kept.
There has been considerable pressure on Musharraf from the Punjabi farmers and from the Punjabi Generals, many of whom come from rich Punjabi land-owning families, for the implementation of the project for raising the height of the dam. Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan has given indications that he might be inclined to go along with Islamabad on this issue provided effective measures were taken for the relief of the affected people.
In the meanwhile, there were three explosions in POK organised by unidentified elements coinciding with the election of Maj.Gen.Anwar Khan as the President. One Pakistani Army soldier was killed and two others were injured when a bomb exploded in a bus in POK near Forward Kahuta village on August 3, 2001. In another incident the same day, three armymen were killed and four others injured when a vehicle in which they were travelling from Muzaffarabad fell into the Jhelum river near village Tandali after an explosion. The previous evening, there was another explosion on the roof of a passenger bus, killing a soldier and injuring another soldier and a passenger near Tungeri village in Bagh district of POK. The bus was proceeding to Rawalpindi.