The Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan has expressed his resolve that the state government would hold general elections in a fair and free manner in the AJK to strengthen the democratic struggle of Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination. “We will hold free and fair elections in Azad Kashmir and these elections should be publicised not only at the national but international level so that the world should know we believe in elections and we want to decide our future through the power of the vote by participating in an UN-sponsored plebiscite,” he asserted. He expressed these views during an interview to a London-based web portal here on Monday. The president said that fair and free elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir have been conducted since 1970. These elections have strengthened democratic institutions and promoted democratic values in the liberated territory. While contrary to AJK, elections in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) have never been held fair and transparent and the people demanding their democratic rights are showered with bullets, he added. He said that innocent people in IIOJK are killed, maimed, and disappeared simply because of their democratic right to self-determination. The people in IIOJK, he regretted, have been deprived of even those rights which they had enjoyed even during the dictatorial Dogra rule while in Azad Kashmir, the people not only enjoy basic civil liberties but also have all human rights in the democratic system,” he added. Khan stressed that at present, voices are rising in the parliaments of the UK, Europe, the United States, and North America as well as the parliaments of Far Eastern states in favour of the democratic rights of the Kashmiri people. “Therefore, we direly need to take advantage and mobilise the world public opinion about the Kashmir issue. This job can be well done by the Pakistani political leadership particularly the parliamentary leaders,” he added. The AJK president appealed to the national political leadership of Pakistan to rise above their petty political differences, and join hands for the important national cause of Kashmir. They should pay visits across the world and expand their contacts with the government officials, parliamentary counterparts, media, and the civil society, they should convey the voice of Kashmiri people to them. He maintained that the political parties of Azad Kashmir need to be once again brought on a single platform on the pattern so that they could play an active role in support of the liberation movement of occupied Kashmir.