Joining AJK govt a collective party decision, says PML-N leader

Published December 7, 2023
PML-N regional president Shah Ghulam Qadir speaks at a press conference in Muzaffarabad on Wednesday. —Photo by author
PML-N regional president Shah Ghulam Qadir speaks at a press conference in Muzaffarabad on Wednesday. —Photo by author

MUZAFFARABAD: Dispelling “ambiguities” about the inclusion of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the existing coalition government in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), its regional president Shah Ghulam Qadir said on Wednesday that the move was the outcome of a “collective” decision of the party’s central leadership.

Speaking at a press conference along with some PML-N leaders, he, however, acknowledged that there had been certain “reservations and questions marks” on the performance of the government which ought to be addressed.

He alleged that the cash flow for the development schemes initiated during the PML-N government (2016-21) had been stopped and no systematised policy had come to fore regarding the [disbursement] of the already released funds. He said in many cases the contractors had gone into litigation, thus triggering serious concerns among the prospective beneficiary population.

This conduct of the government is feared to have sent the investment made on the schemes initiated in PML-N era down the drain, he said, asking the government to arrange a briefing for the lawmakers on the developmental activities.

The PML-N regional president disclosed that he had also tabled a question in the assembly secretariat on details of the expenditures made from the development budget by June 30, but its reply was yet to be furnished by the government.

While cautiously picking holes with the government on some other affairs, Mr Qadir, however, came to its rescue on the issue of the alleged abolition of National Testing Services (NTS) [for education department recruitment].

“The NTS for recruitment is not being withdrawn. If ever any such attempt is made the PML-N will fully condemn and thwart it,” he said, adding, the PML-N workers should not become part of any “negative propaganda campaign” in this regard.

On the issue of the protesting employees of all public sector universities in AJK as well as that of the temporary contractual and ad-hoc employees in other AJK government departments, the PML-N regional chief stressed that their concerns must be addressed on a priority basis.

Without mincing words, he said it was unjust to receive ‘fuel adjustment charges’ from electricity consumers in the liberated territory.

“People of Azad Kashmir should be provided with uninterrupted electricity as per their requirement. It is unjustified to take fuel adjustment charges from them. Instead, they should be supplied electricity at cost price.”

While expressing gratitude to PML-N workers from AJK for joining the welcome gathering for Mr Sharif in big numbers, he said they should also play their role in the victory of the party’s candidate for national and provincial assemblies with the same zeal and zest.

He said the AJK chapter would notify its workers to help them formally take part in the party’s election campaign in their constituencies concerned.

Mr Qadir who had opposed the perks and privileges for the former prime ministers in the ongoing assembly session however parried a detailed reply to a question on this issue.

“Any decision [to enjoy or surrender] the enhanced perks and privileges should be taken by the beneficiaries themselves,” he said.

The PML-N president also vehemently condemned Israeli and Indian terrorism in Gaza and occupied Kashmir, respectively, and called upon the Western states to give up their double standards vis-à-vis human rights.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2023

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