We have drafted and sent a response to UNHCR's reply to Mahmood Ahmed Musafir on the 14th of June.
Here it is:
Ms. Ruven Menikdiwela
The UNHCR Representative in Pakistan
No.2 Diplomatic Enclave, QUAID-E-AZAM, University Road, Sector G-4, Islamabad, Pakistan
Many thanks for your email response on the 14th of June.
While we accept your explanation in terms of the standard operating procedures you have described, we wish to provide further context into this case and hope that - at the very least - you can continue monitoring it.
Mahmood Ahmed Musafir was born in 1964 in Subdivision (tehsil) Mendhar, District Poonch in Indian-administered Kashmir. In 1965, war broke out between India and Pakistan and Mahmood's parents were forced to migrate (taking their children including 1 year old Mahmood) to Kotli in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
He began his life in public activism at the age of 20 in 1984. He has engaged in all manner of peaceful and creative pursuit to address the absence of governance in AJK (Pakistani-Administered Kashmir). The local governmental set-up despite nomenclatures such as 'Azad' (free) with a prime minister, president and supreme court operates at the 5th tier of governance despite the practice and appearance of democratic elections un-interrupted every 5 years since 1985.
Decisions on public policy/governance in AJK begin at the 1st tier with Pakistan's military and its agencies, followed by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad as 2nd tier. Below them remains the Kashmir Council (which has operated effectively as an upper house of parliament in AJK and until the recent 13th Amendment in AJK's 'constitutional' structure had almost sole legislative, judicial as well as executive power in AJK). The 4th tier is a group of at least 7 'lent officers' from Pakistan who further oversee and over-ride any decisions made by the assembly members of AJK who are voted in every 5 years by the public of AJK. However, there is very little that these local politicians can be held accountable for as most powers vest with the Federation of Pakistan, which is not accountable to the public of AJK.
The scenario is further complicated by the fact that AJK is not a territory that is constitutionally a part of the Federation of Pakistan and neither is it autonomous or independent in decision-making. Pakistan has in fact assumed all responsibilities regarding governance in AJK, which for all practical purposes appears self-fulfilling at the cost of the basic rights of the citizen in AJK. A recent report (on the state of human rights in Kashmir) by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the 14th of June, also alludes to some of the points made above.
In short, Mahmood Ahmed Musafir is not a citizen of Pakistan and has in fact moved out of his territory of origin (which remains under constitutional ambiguity for the past 70 years and from where a local citizen cannot institutionally pursue less resolve any aspect of public policy).
Mahmood Ahmed Musafir - despite all the above - has no enmity towards Pakistan but rather has always tried to include the aspirations of the Pakistani citizen within his efforts. However, his aspirations to create alternative energy in a free environment where merit and skill is recognised for the sake of alleviating problems for humanity cannot be realised in AJK or Pakistan. Indeed, the governmental set-up in AJK has expressly demanded that he stop agitating for rights in that territory.
Now that he's reaching the end of his life, he wants to die on a positive note whereby he would be leaving behind something for humanity.
He has also requested UNHCR to explore other grounds which may enable him to be considered for asylum/refugee status. Or should we contact HRCP and assess their response before exploring other options or taking the next step?
It has now been 37 days since Mahmood began his hunger strike on the 14th of May. He has been surviving on liquid and consequently at this stage can no longer walk and his head gets dizzy with increasing frequency.
Finally, we hope to be able to engage with the Head of UNHCR in Pakistan as the dilemma of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir is part of a wider dilemma that prevents any citizen (laymen, politician or judiciary) of AJK from engaging meaningfully with global institutions in particular and the outside world in general.
Being categorised (by default) as citizens of Pakistan without that country bearing the responsibilities of its unqualified control of our territory; has stock-piled a increasing range of problems which could otherwise be resolved by direct access to the outside world on our part.
Thanking you for your understanding.
Tanveer Ahmed (on behalf of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir)
Founder - AJK Public Agency
The original letter written to UNHCR on the 4th of June can be accessed here:
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