ISLAMABAD: Former Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mehmood formally joined the PTI on Thursday. A serving PPP member of the AJK Legislative Assembly also pledged allegiance to PTI Chief Imran Khan and handed a written resignation to his new party leadership.
The ceremony took place at a local hotel in the presence of top PTI leaders. Addressing the gathering organised to mark Kashmir Day, the PTI chief welcomed Barrister Sultan Mehmood to the party, and said, “Only time will tell that I’ve made a good decision”.
Underlining the importance of Kashmir, Mr Khan said that only a strong and prosperous Pakistan could effectively fight for the rights of their Kashmiri brethren. The PTI’s ongoing struggle is for a Pakistan where “we can raise our voice for the cause of Kashmir”, he said.
Switching to his favourite topic, Mr Khan then began pouring scorn on the PML-N and PPP leadership, saying that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari were the forces of status quo. “When they felt threatened by the PTI protest movement, they immediately joined hands and will keep on supporting each other because they are looking after each other’s interests,” he claimed.
Imran Khan promises LG elections in AJK if PTI comes to power
A veteran Kashmiri politician, Barrister Sultan Mehmood is known for switching party loyalties. He claimed that the only way the AJK government had survived — despite widespread corruption — was because of cooperation between the PML-N and PPP. “The only purpose behind my joining the PTI is to bring transparency and accountability, which unfortunately has eluded successive AJK governments.”
The PTI chief said his party’s sit-in was not only a protest against alleged rigging in the last general elections, but was also meant to empower people to raise their voice against the government. “Democracy means the protection of basic human rights and the supremacy of the rule of law, but unfortunately in Pakistan, democracy is used to shackle the people.”
Promising a genuine transfer of powers to the grassroots through the local government system that the PTI intends to put in place in KP following LG elections in May, the PTI chairman said that the party would put a similar system in place if elected in AJK.
Mr Khan also talked about an independent and empowered accountability commission, which the KP government had set up to ensure across-the-board accountability of the powerful. The PTI wants a similar system to be introduced in rest of the country, he said.
Talking about the ongoing hearing of an election tribunal regarding the election in Lahore’s NA-122 constituency, he said, “The final result of my constituency is due this month, which will prove our claim that elections were massively rigged by the PML-N.”
Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2015