Kotli: As protest rallies, sit-ins and blockings of roads against the 15th amendment including the tourism authority act continue in various cities and towns of PoK, Charhoi Tehsil of Kotli district has emerged as the latest centre of the ongoing protest.

The protests have been taking place in Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Kotli, Charhoi, Nar, Chakswari, Taobat and Iftikharabad while several violent protests in Rawalakot, Muzaffarabad, Neelum Valley and surrounding areas are on a surge from the middle of June to Aug 14.

Local leaders affiliated with various political, nationalist and Islamist parties and organisations including JKLF, PML(N), PPP, JeI, Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, students organisations, lawyers fraternity and traders' organisations have termed the 15th amendment as a conspiracy to divide Kashmir permanently and pledged that their protest will continue till this amendment is withdrawn.

About postponement of local bodies' elections, these leaders deviating from their respective lawmakers' stance alleged that efforts are underway to stop the devolution of powers to grass root level. Both the govt and the opposition wish to postpone local government elections.

Former PoK Premier Farooq Haider, who posed himself as a champion of PoK people's rights till Aug 12 is being accused of committing a heinous act of betrayal by joining hands with the Tanveer Ilyas-led PTI government.

However, the people of PoK appeared firm in their resolve after snatching their rights saying that the Kashmiri nation doesn't accept any new act protestors leaders alleged that Pakistan wants to bring the 15th amendment in PoK because Pakistani establishment was in problem after the passage of 13th amendment, under which PoK government had got some autonomy in some matters.

Pakistan and its establishment wish to maintain its occupation of PoK at any cost, but the Kashmiri nation from Taobat to Iftikharabad has rejected the 15th amendment.

Rejecting an increase in electricity tariff, protestors announced that they will not accept the postponement of local body elections. They will launch a movement against the PoK government if they try to postpone these elections. They announced to boycott all MLAs, if the government passed the 15th amendment.

The vast majority of PoK people is surprised and shocked that the opposition parties fully cooperated with the PTI government while tabling the draft of the "Local Bodies Commission Amendment Bill (15th amendment)" on august 13. Besides, government ministers, opposition leader Chaudhary Latif Akbar, PML (N) PoK President Shah Ghulam Qadir and former PoK PM Raja Farooq Haider are also involved in this conspiracy. The PoK lawmakers spelling out objectives of the 15th amendment bill said that a separate election commission has been formed for local bodies' elections.

Political parties of PoK do not appear in favour of local bodies' elections as they fear that all development funds will slip out of their hands with the formation of local bodies. On the other hand, there is unprecedented public support for local bodies' elections.

With the tabling of the 15th amendment, which also comprises separate local bodies and election commission, intentions of all political parties have got exposed. A separate election commission for local bodies' elections means that it will take several months. In this way, local bodies' elections will get deferred for the time being.

PoK bar council condemning the amendment bill termed it a blatant violation of human rights and Supreme Court's decision as well. Those supporting the 15th amendment are of the view that legislation on this amendment cannot be challenged in the judiciary as it is the prerogative of the assembly.

At a time when the election schedule of the local bodies' election has been issued by the election commission and September 28 has been fixed for the polling, this move by the PoK government and the opposition has exposed their intentions.

Political circles said that PoK politicians are bent on trampling people's interests under their feet for the sake of their vested interests. People of PoK are highly enraged and some circles are issuing warnings to the government to behave while addressing their genuine grievances. Ongoing repressions against protestors could lead to a Kashmir-like situation in PoK.

On August 13, PoK Minister Khawaja Farooq Ahmed presented the 15th amendment bill in the PoK assembly. According to this bill, a separate election commission is being formed for local bodies' after usurping powers from the PoK election commission. The main difference in this regard is that the local bodies' commission will not be an independent election commission. It will be a part of the government machinery.

It is alleged that the PoK government exerted unbearable pressure on the election commission to postpone the local bodies' elections. Efforts were also made to influence the Supreme Court but they failed.

Now the PoK government after withdrawing this task from the election commission has presented the 15th amendment for constituting a parallel election commission. PoK government's action, according to constitutional experts amounted to expressing distrust in the election commission. The question is being raised whether the election commission has not the capacity to hold local bodies' elections honestly, fairly and justly. (A