MUZAFFARABAD: In what appeared to be a damage-control attempt, ten members of the parliamentary party of PTI in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) asserted in a joint statement on Monday that there was no friction in the ruling party and all were unitedly working under the leadership of Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi.

The clarification was issued a day after a luncheon meeting was hosted by AJK President Barrister Sultan Mahmood for the PTI parliamentary party at his camp office in Kashmir House.

The presidency had extended the invitation for the midday meal to 30 out of 32 parliamentary party members, while leaving out PM Niazi and senior minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, but only 17 had made it to the event, including 10 ministers and one adviser.

A press release issued by the presidency following the meeting had claimed that the participants had complained, among other things, about being ignored by the prime minister in affairs related to their respective constituencies.

On his part, President Mahmood had also expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s performance by observing that neither it could create goodwill among the masses nor were the PTI workers satisfied with it.

He had particularly stressed upon PM Niazi to fulfil his responsibilities for the improvement in the working of his government so as to make headway in accordance with the vision of PTI chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

However, on Monday, the Press Information Department released a joint statement by 10 out of the 17 participants of Sunday’s event in which they asserted that they had attended the luncheon meeting with the permission of Prime Minister Niazi.

Those who had purportedly issued the joint statement included seven ministers, one adviser and two parliamentary secretaries.

“Prime minister [Niazi] is our team captain and the entire parliamentary party stands behind him like a solid rock. We are utilising all resources under his [Mr Niazi’s] leadership for development of the [AJK] territory and implementation of the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”

The PTI lawmakers further clarified that yesterday’s event was not a “meeting against the government” but a formal lunch arranged by the president “where discussions on AJK’s development, local body elections and the situation in India occupied Kashmir were held.”

“There is no divide whatsoever in the ranks of PTI.. Media reports to this effect are baseless,” they said.

They said Mr Niazi was a seasoned politician and their foremost priority under his command was to “develop AJK , point out public issues and accomplish under-construction projects.”

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2021

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