While urging protesters to stay peaceful, Central Information Secretary Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Azad Jammu Kashmir Ershad Mahmud has said that the PTI respected people’ s right to protest, however, it expected that the protesters must not resort to violence and there was no disruption to the citizens’ movement and business. In a statement issued here on Friday, Mahmud while reacting to protests that had been going in the region for past few weeks said, “PTI does not want that government should use any kind of force against them (protesters), however, it expects that roads and markets should remain open so that there is no disruption to the movement and business of citizens”. He said that the protests started against hiked electricity bill in Azad Kashmir, particularly in district Poonch. He said that Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan, while taking strong notice of the matter, directed the department of electricity to withdraw additional taxes and surcharges imposed on electricity bills. “Now that the PM has formally asked the electricity department to take back charges there is no justification whatsoever for protesters to continue their protest”, the PTI leader said. Terming 15th amendment as a national issue, Ershad Mahmud said, “Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas Khan has made it clear time and again that there will be no compromise on the financial and administrative powers of Azad Kashmir”. He said that consultations on the matter were going on with all political parties and other stakeholders including the civil society. “Whatever decision is taken will be in the national interest”, he said adding that the PTI would not compromise on the national identity, unity of the state and its resources. Regarding the concerns expressed by the civil society about the establishment of tourism authority, the PTI leader said, “The government is ready to remove public concerns regarding the authority. The purpose of setting up the tourism authority is to speed up the development of tourist destinations and to simplify the bureaucratic process”. He said that the PM’s aim behind the establishment of the Tourism Authority was to bring large-scale investment in the region besides creating ample employment opportunities at local level. He said that it was unfortunate that misunderstandings were being deliberately created regarding the Tourism Authority. He said that the PTI would request the administration to release the persons who do not have serious cases against them. “Azad Kashmir is a peaceful region and its identity should not be compromised at any cost”, he maintained.