PTI names Barrister Sultan candidate for AJK president slot

Published August 12, 2021
A file photo of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Barrister Sultan Mahmood. — APP/File
A file photo of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Barrister Sultan Mahmood. — APP/File

MUZAFFARABAD: Regional president of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Barrister Sultan Mahmood has agreed to become the party’s candidate in the presidential election in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), scheduled for Aug 17, it emerged on Wednesday.

Mr Mahmood was elected as member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) 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 both were won by him.

Expecting to be nominated as the prime ministerial candidate for leading the PTI to a sweeping success, Mr Mahmood however faced a blow on August 5 when Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi, who was nowhere among the list of the AJK PM hopefuls, was picked up by Prime Minister Imran Khan for the coveted office.

Immediately after casting his vote in the assembly, the PTI regional chief had left Muzaffarabad for his constituency apparently in a state of frustration.

However, in Mirpur, he had addressed a large gathering of his charged supporters in a cheerful mood with a volley of jolly comments.

“I feel relieved that the party I had worked for day and night [in AJK] over the past seven years has finally landed in the corridors of power,” he had said.

Assuring his electorate that all the promises he had made to them during the campaign would be fulfilled, he had also tried to soothe them by saying that politics was not a T20 but a test match and eventually he would emerge triumphant in it.

According to sources, the PTI leadership had told Mr Mahmood that after his elevation to the presidency his son would be launched from Mirpur-III and subsequently inducted in the cabinet.

Showing reluctance because in that case he would have to quit both the assembly and the party’s top regional office, Mr Mahmood however changed his mind after Prime Minister Imran Khan himself spoke to him the other day in this regard.

It was after his willingness, Ali Amin Gandapur, the federal minister for Kashmir affairs, announced his candidature for the president’s office on Wednesday evening.

“Barrister Sultan Mahmood carries an important position in the politics of Kashmir. Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved his name for the office of AJK president,” Mr Gandapur said.

Meanwhile, the willingness of Mr Mahmood and subsequent announcement by Mr Gandapur was believed to end an alleged grouping in the PTI parliamentary party in AJK which had delayed the constitution of the state cabinet.

Sources claimed that initially a 12-member cabinet, comprising nine members from AJK territory and two from the Kashmiri refugees’ constituencies in Pakistan, had been finalised by Senator Saifullah Niyazee and Mr Gandapur.

Both leaders had also chosen their portfolios, sources said, adding that senior minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, who was administered oath soon after the swearing of PM Niazi on Aug 5, would get the lion’s share.

“Ironically, the AJK premier, who the Constitution empowers to appoint ministers and allot portfolios he deems fit for them, does not figure anywhere in this process,” a source remarked.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2021

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