Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's 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.
He was administered the oath of his office by AJK President Sardar Masood Khan.
Earlier in the day, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan had nominated Niazi as the ruling party's candidate for the position.
In a tweet, the minister said that PM Imran 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.
Azhar Mashwani, Punjab chief minister's focal person for digital media, added that Niazi was a member of the AJK Legislative Assembly from border area Abbaspur Poonch.
"He is also the central joint secretary of the PTI," he said.
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.
Niazi — who won the recent AJK polls from the LA-18 constituency — was not among the leading candidates for the position initially.
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.
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.
Whilst reading a list of PTI's nominated candidates last month during a rally in Bagh ahead of the elections, even Prime Minister Imran had expressed surprise at Abdul Qayyum Niazi's name, saying: "How did a Niazi get here? I am quite surprised. Though we Niazis have spread everywhere."
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.
PTI clinches most seats to form next govt
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).
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 party 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.
“I will focus on bringing the people out of poverty through our Ehsaas and Kamyab Pakistan programmes; and establish accountability and transparency in government," he had said.
"As an ambassador for Kashmir, I will continue to raise my voice on all international forums including the United Nations to ensure the international community fulfills its commitment of self-determination to the Kashmiri people through a UN-sponsored plebiscite,” he had vowed.