MUZAFFARABAD, July 28: The Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo has agreed, in principle, to withdraw a controversial ‘advice’ by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, in his capacity as chairman Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) Council.
Seeking repeal of the application of accountability law in the AJK Council with retrospective effect, highly placed sources told Dawn.
The decision was conveyed by Mr Wattoo to AJK President, Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan during a meeting on the highly critical issue in Islamabad the other day.
AJK’s senior minister, Chaudhry Muhammad Yasin was also present in the meeting, sources said.
The AJK President, who had a very categorical stand on the issue from day one, told the federal minister that the AJK government and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) could not afford the proposed amendment for a number of reasons, the outrage of AJK’s civil society at alleged “dictatorial role of the AJK Council and acts of corruption being on top of them,” sources privy to the meeting said.
According to them, the president also pointed out that no law could be repealed or enacted from back dates and the prime minister’s office had been exploited by certain vested quarters, who wanted to evade accountability at the hands of the AJK Ehtesab Bureau (EB), through his advice.
Mr Khan also made it clear that it was unbecoming of him to amend a law that had been enacted by the AJK Assembly, sources added.
Sources said while Mr Wattoo had been out to push through the amendment, Ms Faryal Talpur, sister of President Asif Ali Zardari, was however supporting the argument of AJK president. Ms Talpur is also in-charge of AJK affairs.
According to sources, the withdrawal of the prime minister’s advice was bound to reinvigorate the EB, which has already taken action to unearth hitherto unchecked corruption in the Council and punish the culprits.
In the same connection, the EB has issued arrest warrants for AJK Council’s joint secretary Malik Qaiser Majeed, accounts officer Haq Nawaz Abbasi and AJK Income Tax Commissioner, Qaiser Iqbal.
Sources disclosed that it had also been decided at the meeting that Mr Majeed, a CSP officer serving in the AJK Council for more than eight years, would be removed from there as he had attempted to pit the AJK government against the centre to save himself and a set of other corrupt elements from accountability.
However, on being contacted by Dawn on Saturday, Mr Majeed alleged that some people in the AJK bureaucracy were misleading the government there.
“I have not done any corruption and all this hype is most probably to get me transferred because I am the main hurdle in their eyes. I thwarted the move (by AJK government) to increase the Council seats unilaterally in February, this year, and make the prime minister of Pakistan weak,” he said.
However, when asked how the empowerment of the federating units or AJK could be dubbed as weakness of the federation, he evaded the answer.
He maintained that he was just following a legal position and as the amended accountability act by AJK Legislative Assembly in 2010 had not been adopted by the AJK Council, all actions by the EB chairman were illegal and have no legal value.
“I have proposed that the Council should come under NAB,” he said.
However, a senior bureaucrat in Muzaffarabad said Mr Majeed was trying to prove himself indispensable, which was against the truth.
“AJK Council is a product of AJK’s Constitution and it will have to be governed through this document,” the official said, adding, decisions could not be made in contravention of this basic principle.