Awami Action Committee Azad Kashmir Calls Muzaffarabad Chalo

In a scene straight out of a political thriller, the Awami Action Committee (AAC) led a long march to the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Muzaffarabad, amidst escalating protests against inflated electricity bills and taxes. Monday marked the fourth day of a wheel-jam strike, with demonstrators demanding action.

Protests and Road Closures:

Protestors had already staged sit-ins, effectively closing the Kohala–Muzaffarabad Road at several locations, disrupting the vital 40-kilometer link between Kohala town and Muzaffarabad in AJK. The journey from Dhirkot to the capital was expected to follow the same road. Tensions soared as clashes between police and protestors erupted in Mirpur during demonstrations, resulting in the tragic death of a police officer and injuries to over 70 others.

Government Response:

The AJK government summoned Rangers and AJK police to quell the unrest. Heavy police contingents were deployed at strategic points and sensitive locations, while markets, trade centers, and educational institutions remained shuttered, and transport services were suspended.

Prime Minister’s Intervention:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a high-level meeting to address the escalating situation in AJK, as negotiations between protestors and the government hit a deadlock. Expressing deep concerns over the violent clashes, PM Shehbaz emphasized zero tolerance for lawlessness and urged peaceful resolution through dialogue.

President’s Call for Restraint:

President Asif Ali Zardari called for restraint, urging all stakeholders to resolve the issues through dialogue. He emphasized responsible action by political parties, state institutions, and the people of AJK to prevent exploitation of the situation by hostile elements.

AAC’s Stance:

The AAC leadership distanced itself from the violent incidents, asserting their movement’s peaceful nature. Members clarified that the protests were not against the state or any institution but aimed at addressing grievances peacefully.

AJK Protests Escalate:

What began as a call for a shutdown and wheel-jam strike escalated into clashes between protestors and police, resulting in casualties and injuries. Protestors damaged vehicles and disrupted normal life across AJK. The government responded with arrests and crackdowns, further intensifying tensions.

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