In a major retaliation to India's decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the government of Pakistan occupied Kashmir has changed the name of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from 'Azad Kashmir' to Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Services. The circular issued by the 'Azad Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir Services' and General Administration Department (Regulations), announced the renaming of 'Azad Jammu and Kashmir Management Group' to Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Services (JKAS) with immediate effect.
"All references to 'Azad Jammu and Kashmir Management Group' in any rule, order or instruction shall be construed as a reference to Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Services," the order highlighted.
PoK the fifth province?
Notably, the order has come days after the PoK 'Prime Minister' Farooq Haider Khan claimed that he could be the last 'Prime Minister' of PoK which clearly meant that Imran Khan-led government is planning to alter the status of PoK which has been illegally captured by Pakistan. Khan came under heavy fire from several PoK leaders who are against Pakistan's plan to interfere in PoK matters which was an autonomous territory held illegally by Pakistan. The country is mooting to make PoK the fifth province of the country. Interestingly, provinces in Pakistan have governors and chief ministers, PoK is governed through a separate president and a prime minister. If the speculation comes true it may alter the status quo of the region drastically.
Recently, Pakistan Prime Minister claimed that India may plan something big in Muzaffarabad which is the capital of PoK amid repeated calls by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to re-integrate the region that has been held by Pakistan illegally. Presently, Pakistan has four provinces including Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh. Moreover, it has two autonomous territories of PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan and one federal territory, Islamabad Capital Territory. It is to be noted that under the leadership of former PM PV Narsimha Rao, the Indian Parliament had unanimously passed a resolution in 1994 stating the PoK as an integral part of India. Moreover, under Jammu and Kashmir Re-organization Act, the Central Government has reserved 24 seats for Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. On August 5, Modi led government scrapped Article 370 of the Indian constitution scrapping the special status of the state and bifurcating it into Union Territories.