Yet another adjournment hints at ‘understanding’ on AJK PM poll

Published April 18, 2023
A staff member recites holy verses at the AJK Assembly session on Monday which was adjourned by Deputy speaker Riaz Gujjar immediately afterwards. — Photo by author
A staff member recites holy verses at the AJK Assembly session on Monday which was adjourned by Deputy speaker Riaz Gujjar immediately afterwards. — Photo by author

MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly failed to initiate proceedings to elect a new leader of the house for the fourth consecutive day, on Monday.

The session was convened at 11am, but it started more than four hours later, around 3:15pm, with deputy speaker Chaudhry Riaz Gujjar in the chair.

Unlike the previous sitting, quorum in the house was complete as 13 members from the ruling PTI, including the acting PM, and 18 members from the combined opposition were in attendance.

In less than a minute, however, the deputy speaker announced adjournment of the session until 11am on Tuesday without mentioning any reason or suspending the rules.

Interestingly, ruling party members calmly rose in their seats to leave the hall, and opposition lawmakers followed suit without any hue and cry, something that seemed unlikely given the prevailing situation.

Deputy speaker adjourns session without giving a reason; acting PM terms purchase of luxury vehicle ‘inopportune’

This lent credence to the impression that the adjournments were being made with mutual understanding between the government and the opposition.

However, outside the assembly, opposition leader Chaudhry Latif Akbar regretted it, saying: “We will discuss a strategy to forestall this practice”.

Alleged PTI renegades who are reportedly being ‘sheltered’ by President Sultan Mahmood, have yet to formally announce they are parting ways with their party and forming an independent forward bloc.

When reporters asked Chaudhry Rasheed about a split in the PTI, he replied in the negative.

“So far, no such thing has happened. The president has given [a panel of] three names (for the prime minister’s position) and [the same] has been done by Sardar Tanveer Ilyas,” he said.

Mr Rasheed, who is tipped by Mr Mahmood as his prime ministerial candidate, said if he obtained the trust of all friends, he would work to bring substantial reforms in the state.

“I will move ahead by reorganising and rationalising the huge institutional set up of the state,” he vowed.

On the other hand, the ruling PTI was still silent on its prime ministerial candidate.

“We have purposely withheld disclosure of our candidate because we want to give less reaction time to our opponents in this war of nerves,” acting prime minister Khawaja Farooq Ahmed claimed.

Earlier in the day, acting PM Ahmed also presided over a meeting of cabinet during which security measures were reviewed in the context of the current political situation. On the issue of purchase of an expensive luxury vehicle for the AJK president, the acting prime minister said it was a inopportune move at a time when the state was facing acute financial problems and said that the purchase process should be terminated.

On this, the chief secretary informed the cabinet that the tender for the vehicle had been cancelled and newspaper advertisements had also been published in this regard.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2023

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