MUZAFFARABAD: The newly-elected President of Azad Jammu Kashmir Barrister Sultan Mahmood Choudhry took oath of his office as 28th President of Azad Jammu Kashmir State on Wednesday at a special ceremony held here. Chief Justice of Azad Jammu Kashmir, Justice Raja Saeed Akram Khan administered the oath to Sultan as President of Azad Jammu Kashmir for next five years constitutional term.
It was officially informed that the ceremony would be attended, among others, by AJK Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Niazi and newly elected members of AJK Legislative Assembly, high ranking officials of AJK government and senior leaders and activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the newly-emerged ruling party in the AJK.
SultanMahmood was elected as President of AJK in a special session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative Assembly on Tuesday last.
Barrister Sultan Mehammod Choudhary, the nominee of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, AJK Chapter, had won the office securing 34 votes against his solitary opponent Mian Abdul Waheed, joint candidate of the opposition parties in the house who bagged 16 votes.
Sultan Mahmood, who joined the PTI in 2015, secured 34 votes against his rival, joint opposition candidate Mian Abdul Waheed, who bagged 16 votes.
The tenure of the incumbent president Sardar Masood Khan will end on August 24. Mahmood has previously served as the prime minister of AJK from the platform of PPP from 1996 to 2001.
Votes for electing the AJK president were cast during a special session of the legislative assembly, which began after a delay of two hours.
Soon after Mahmood was announced winner in the election, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan congratulated him in a tweet. “Congratulations to PTI Barrister Sultan Mehmood on his election as President of Azad Kashmir and best wishes. Inshallah you will play a great role for the rights of Kashmiris as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and bring real change in Kashmir. Amen,” he tweeted.
Mahmood, who is the PTI’s regional president, was elected a member of the AJK Legislative Assembly from LA-3, Mirpur-III on July 25, securing his seventh victory in nine general elections since 1985. Apart from these nine general elections, two by-elections were also held in this constituency and he won both of them.
Mahmood was a top contender for the post of the AJK prime minister earlier this month. However, Abdul Qayyum Niazi was appointed the 13th premier of AJK by Prime Minister Imran Khan after consultation.
Niazi received 33 votes while the joint candidate of the opposition, Chaudhry Latif Akbar, could only secure 15 votes. Niazi was not in the run for the coveted post and was only included at the eleventh hour. The PTI leadership had promised Mahmood that after his elevation to the presidency, his son would be launched from Mirpur-III and later inducted in the cabinet.
Reluctant at first because in that case he would have to quit both the assembly and the party’s top regional office, Mahmood agreed to contest the election after PM Imran spoke to him.
Mahmood started his political carrier in 1983 after completing his education in the UK and elected as the youngest member of AJK legislative Assembly in 1985 from the platform of Azad Muslim Conference, a party founded by his father late Ch Noor Hussain.
His seat would be declared vacant after he takes oath of his office.
He also served as a minister and the opposition leader in the AJK assembly.
The newly elected president also headed many political parties including the Jammu Kashmir Liberation League, the Azad Muslim Conference, the PPP and the Peoples Muslim League which he himself had founded.
According to the official results of the July 25 polls, the PTI secured 26 general seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly, followed by 11 by the PPP, six by PML-N and one each by Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference and Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party.
Three more PTI candidates were elected unopposed against five seats reserved for women, in addition to one each from the PPP and the PML-N. Later, the ruling party won another three reserved seats, raising its strength to 32 in the 53-member House.