Azad Jammu & Kashmir: Prospects for Democratic Governance

Grantee Information

Name: Javaid Hayat
Project duration: December 2009 – December 2013

PhD Project Description

Establishing democracy and building democratic and autonomous governance structures without sovereign statehood are pressing issues in societies in disputed territories, especially where democracy is relatively fresh and concerns over quality are often linked to its capacity to deliver public services. Governance systems are fragile due to ethnic, racial and religious fault-lines, which in turn exacerbate pre-existing tensions, and the process of democratisation is seen as problematic. Contemporary scholars observed that societies, which are driven by ethnicity and other social cleavages demonstrates increasing political rifts, social deprivation and intensified conflict. This, in turn, results in a failure to establish democratic governance and to protect legitimate rights of people.

The debate on power-sharing mainly revolves around ethnicity within a society and state. Power-sharing is seen as potential tool for sustainable democracy and conflict management in deeply divided ethnical societies. However, insufficient attention has been paid to how the power-sharing relationship between a disputed territory and the controlling nation-state functions and how it affects governance and democracy. It is argued that power-sharing, especially where one layer of authority retains exclusive power over others, inevitably causes friction and fragility of governance.

Within the given paradigm, the dissertation was set to examine how democratic governance can be transpired in 'disputed territories' amidst ambiguous sovereignty, absence of self-determination and enduring conflict. Thus, the Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK-a disputed territory) was taken as case study. It discussed the genesis of the Kashmir conflict and its subsequent implications, including division alongside the Line of Control (LoC), which further gave birth to establishing de facto interim governance structures in different divided parts of Jammu & Kashmir. It elaborated a theoretical debate between sovereignty and democracy and identifies the essentiality of autonomy or autonomous government for establishing a democratic governance structure in the disputed territories. In this respect, several power-sharing institutional design approaches namely: Consociational, Centripetalism and territorial autonomy have been explored and examined. The study observed that the option of territorial autonomy provides a better interim framework for democracy and conflict management until the final resolution of disputed territories. For building democracy and democratic governance structure and processes, this study recommended an alternate model for the disputed territory of Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

This study was based on literature mainly from political science and International Relations (IR) and more precisely from democracy, governance and conflict theories. The data were collected through secondary resources and primary resources and subsequently analysed and presented qualitatively.

Free University Dissertation Archive: "Azad Jammu & Kashmir: Prospects for Democratic Governance Amidst Ambiguous Sovereignty, Absence of Self-determination and Enduring Conflict"