Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Barrister Sultan Mahmood was elected as the president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Tuesday, securing 34 votes against opposition candidate Mian Abdul Waheed's 16, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Mahmood will succeed Sardar Masood Khan as the president whose stipulated constitutional term will come to an end on August 24, according to Radio Pakistan.
Votes for electing the AJK president were cast during a special session of the legislative assembly, which began after a delay of two hours, the state broadcaster reported.
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 as a member of the AJK Legislatve 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 both were won by him.
Prior to his nomination as the PTI's candidate for presidential elections, Mahmood was expecting to be nominated as the prime ministerial candidate for leading the party to a sweeping success in AJK, according to a Dawn report. He, however, faced a blow on August 5 when Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi, who was nowhere in the initial list of the AJK premier hopefuls, was picked by Prime Minister Imran Khan for the coveted office.
According to sources quoted in a Dawn report, the PTI leadership had told Mahmood that after his elevation to the presidency, his son would be launched from Mirpur-III and subsequently inducted in the cabinet in bid to convince him to agree to become the party’s candidate in the presidential election.
Initially showing reluctance, because in that case he would have to quit both the assembly and the party’s top regional office, Mahmood had agreed to contest the election after Prime Minister Imran Khan had spoken to him in that regard, the report said.