The following is the text of a message I uploaded to a facebook group namely
< Civil Society Forum - AJK >
about an hour ago:
Creating a Consensus in AJK
1) Enduring National Question / Constitutional ambiguity / Our public affairs being governed under an adopted and interim constitutional arrangement.
2) Democratically elected MLAs in AJK not being able to effectively legislate on most matters discussed by the public at large.
3) Difficulty in developing an internal narrative and pursuing it with locally generated public resources.
Almost each and every adult citizen in AJK has their own unique set of demands in public interest.
Every political party, social welfare organisation and other pressure groups/lobbies have their own strategy.
How can we identify the right number to put to our public representatives?
Who are our public representatives?
What should be included or not in the demands?
Who should represent the public in putting those demands to them?
In 2018, which of the following methods would be most effective in convincing AJK's Legislative Assembly to agree to a set of measures in public interest - to be carried out by a locally created institution:
1) March/demonstrate in public
2) Read, listen, watch, discuss and then sign a Citizen's Charter
3) Create a business plan, engage those involved institutionally and then create a lobby for making demands in public.
Now, in a society such as AJK (and there is perhaps no other society quite like it) the term 'ignorance if measured can be cured' is still quite a distant concept. The mono narrative that exists in the public domain is one that only sees AJK as an extension of Pakistan's security-state apparatus. "Its a disputed territory according to international law and the status quo has to prevail until the people of the territory decide to accede with either India or Pakistan under a United Nations conflict resolution framework". This is the closest I can get to paraphrasing as accurately as possible the creative boundaries within which any citizen of AJK - politician or layman - has to operate within.
So, getting the citizens of AJK to engage in a consensus building programme is probably the most difficult activity to conduct in AJK in 2018.
The 10,000 sample Citizen Public Opinion Survey - AJK was no less difficult but it was completed and I would argue that it provides far more meaningful data for governance than all the Assembly elections that have been conducted in AJK so far.
What Consensus - AJK wants to achieve (and within the next 10 months) cannot be done without the public understanding its value as a tool for resolving our 70 year old 'national question' and modern governance.
What transpired as a need during the public opinion survey was the need for a dedicated software programme that can update its findings in real time and ensure the representative character of those being questioned. This need is being felt more intensely as the days tick away.