Imran’s surprising move, Qayyum elected AJK PM

ISLAMABAD: In a completely unexpected decision and surprise move, Imran Khan has nominated Abdul Qayyum Niazi as the next premier of AJK. Niazi was a member of the AJK Legislative Assembly from border area Abbaspur Poonch. He is also the central joint secretary of the PTI.

Later Abdul Qayyum Niazi was on Wednesday elected the 13th prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He received 33 votes in the newly formed Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, whereas joint opposition’s candidate Chaudhry Latif Akbar garnered 15 votes. Niazi succeeds PML-N’s Raja Farooq Haider, whose tenure in the AJK PM’s office had ended on July 30.

Profile: Abdul Qayyum Niazi

Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi belongs to the Dulli family of tehsil Abbaspur in AJK’s Poonch district. His village Darra Sher Khan is located in Poonch’s Battal sector, which has seen much destruction in Indian shelling in the past.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and nominated AJK Prime Minister Abdul Qayyum Niazi

His family is settled in Islamabad, where they own businesses.

Niazi is not Abdul Qayyum’s family name, but a pseudonym, and an interesting story is attached to this title.

In the start of 1990s, Abdul Qayyum was a member of the Pooch district council. At the same time, Muslim Conference leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan was the prime minister of AJK.

Their first names being the same would often create confusion between their statements and official orders, and the Poonch administration would sometimes implement the district council member’s orders mistaking them for the directions of the prime minister.

In order to settle the problem, ex-prime minister Abdul Qayyum Khan advised Niazi to attach a different last name to his name, and thus he started using Niazi as his last time.

Besides serving in the district council, Niazi remained the minister for food security between 2006 and 2008 in the Muslim Conference government, and the forest minister in the second cabinet of Sardar Ateeq from 2010 to 2011.

Fawad Choudhary

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry announced on Wednesday that Prime Minister Imran Khan had nominated Abdul Qayyum Niazi as the next premier of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Niazi — who won the recent AJK polls from the LA-18 constituency — was not among the leading candidates for the position initially.

Imran Khan had on Friday and Saturday interviewed no less than seven candidates for the position of AJK premier. The prime minister had put various questions to them, relating to their future strategy and views on environment, tourism and national and international issues.

According to a source, PM Imran had expressed displeasure over the fact that he was being contacted by different quarters that were exerting pressure to select particular candidates.

In a tweet, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Choudhary said that PM Imran Khan had made the decision after extensive consultations and reviewing all the proposals. “He is a dynamic and genuine political activist and his heart beats for the people,” he said.

PTI clinches most seats

According to the official results of the July 25 polls, the PTI clinched 26 general seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly, followed by 11 by the PPP, six by PML-N and one each by state-based AJK Muslim Conference (AJKMC) and Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP).

Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly

Three more PTI candidates were elected unopposed on Sunday against five seats reserved for women, in addition to one each from the PPP and the PML-N.

On Monday, the ruling had secured another three reserved seats, raising its strength to 32 in the 53-member house.

Following the PTI’s victory, PM Imran had congratulated the successful candidates and thanked the people of AJK for placing their trust in the PTI, which resulted in the PTI’s electoral victory.

Members of AJK Legislative Assembly

“I will focus on bringing the people out of poverty through our Ehsaas and Kamyab Pakistan programmes; and establish accountability and transparency in government. As ambassador for Kashmir, I will continue to raise my voice on all international forums including the United Nations to ensure the international community fulfilled its commitment of self-determination to the Kashmiri people through a UN-sponsored plebiscite,” he had vowed.

Oath taking

The newly elected members of AJK Legislative Assembly on Tuesday took oath of their new duties with PTI candidate Anwarul Haq elected as speaker and Riaz Gujjar deputy speaker.

Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir administered the oath to the newly elected members. Among those who took the oath were six women.

Sardar Atiq Ahmad Khan of the Muslim Conference and Javed Iqbal Badhanivi of the Pakistan Peoples Party could not take the oath.

In the meeting, PTI’s Chaudhry Anwarul Haq got 32 votes and was elected speaker. Opposition candidate Faisal Mumtaz Rathore got 15 votes.

Barrister Sultan Mahmood, Raja Farooq Haider Khan and other elected members taking oath on Tuesday

A total of 49 members took part in the voting, out of which two votes were rejected.

Later, when the voting for deputy speaker’s slot took place, PTI candidate Gujjar secured the seat with 32 votes. Opposition candidate Nisar Abbasi got 15 votes.

On Monday, the PTI clinched all three reserved seats – one each for Ulema and Mushaikh, overseas Kashmiris and technocrats – to raise its strength in the 53-member house to 32. There were nine candidates from the three parties – PTI, PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – vying for the reserved seats.

On August 1, the PPP and the PML-N agreed to field joint candidates for the slots of AJK prime minister, speaker and deputy speaker. The two opposition parties have been in touch for parliamentary cooperation in the assembly.

Sources said the two parties would cooperate for reserved seats. The PML-N and the PPP each secured a seat reserved for women. The sources added that there is a high probability that the seat of leader of the opposition would be bagged by the PPP.

PPP AJK President Chaudhry Latif Akbar said it was decided in a meeting with a PML-N leader and former prime minister Raja Farooq Haider that the two parties would cooperate with each other.

“The PPP and the PML-N will work under a joint strategy,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party emerged as the single-largest party after clinching 26 general seats in the July 25 elections. The PPP came in second with 11 seats while the PML-N bagged six seats.

Speaker, Deputy Speaker

Chaudhry Anwar-ul-Haq and Riaz Ahmed of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have been elected as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively. He got beat by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan King Faisal Mumtaz Rathore 32 votes Nisar Abbasi of PML (N) while their opponents 15 votes.

It should be noted that Faisal Mumtaz Rathore and Nisar Abbasi were joint candidates of both the parties. Earlier in the inaugural session, Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir, who had resigned from 49 out of 52 newly elected members of the AJK Legislative Assembly, took oath of office.

Speaker Ch. Anwaarul Haque(L) and Riaz Ahmed Jujjar Deputy Speaker(R) taking oath

PPP’s Chaudhry Muhammad Yasin has been elected from two constituencies in Kotli district and he has to take oath from one of his seats within 30 days. Instead there are 11 while the PML-N has 7 votes.

The two parties had earlier fielded joint candidates for three reserved seats and announced a joint candidate for the PM’s job, which is due to be elected on Wednesday.

The PTI has 32 votes and the two state parties, the Muslim Conference (MC) and the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Party (JKPP), have one vote each.

However, PPP’s Chaudhry Yasin and Javed Iqbal and MC’s Sardar Atiq Ahmad Khan did not participate in the inaugural session, which resulted in 49 members voting.

In the election of the Speaker, one vote was cast in favor of the PTI candidate and the other in favor of the Opposition. Anwar-ul-Haq presided over the meeting after being declared successful and took oath and held elections for the post of Deputy Speaker.

However, this time Anwar-ul-Haq did not cast his vote after his party’s Majid Khan objected that the speaker could cast his vote only if the election ended in a tie.

Addressing the House after taking oath from the Deputy Speaker, Anwar-ul-Haq thanked the PTI leadership for showing confidence in him and said that they would not suppress the voice of the opposition.