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Swearing in of AJK cabinet put off

August 01, 2011

A view of AJK Legislative Assembly session. – File Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: The oath-taking ceremony of the new AJK cabinet scheduled for Monday morning has been held up due to a rift within the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the last minute refusal of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to join it, sources in the two parties told Dawn.

Though, there was no official announcement regarding cancellation of the oath-taking ceremony scheduled to be held at Muzaffarabad on Monday morning at 10am, the sources in the PPP told Dawn that AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed had delayed the formation of his cabinet on the directive of the party co-chairman President Asif Ali Zardari due to the reluctance of senior member and party’s secretary-general Chaudhry Latif Akbar to become a minister.

The sources said Mr Akbar, who had earlier been promised the post of president of Azad Kashmir, was annoyed over the leadership’s decision to make Sardar Yaqoob Khan the president instead. There has been resentment in the party over Sardar Yaqoob’s election as president as he is a new entrant to the PPP and has earlier served as the prime minister from the Muslim Conference platform.

Fearing a possible dissent within the party ranks, the sources said, the party leadership at the eleventh hour decided to put off the oath-taking ceremony for a few days in order to get some time to pacify Mr Akbar and to wait for the final response of the MQM, having two members in the AJK Legislative Assembly.

The AJK Prime Minister, Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, was on his way to Muzaffarabad, the AJK capital, when he was asked by the party high-ups to return to Islamabad on Sunday evening. The sources said the AJK prime minister was busy in political wheeling-dealings till late Sunday night in Islamabad which was a clear indication that the oath-taking ceremony that was scheduled for Monday morning in Muzaffarabad would not be held.

When contacted, the MQM member and former tourism minister, Tahir Khokhar, said the ruling party had offered both the party legislators to become ministers, but they had refused to do so as they had not received any directives from the party’s decision-making Coordination Committee.

The MQM has been facing criticism from some political circles for accepting the office of the Sindh governor while remaining in the opposition at the parliament and in the Sindh Assembly.

When contacted, MQM’s Coordination Committee member and party’s spokesman Wasay Jalil said the MQM had so far not decided to join the AJK cabinet and the final decision would soon be taken by the committee.

Responding to a query, he said so far no meeting of the Coordination Committee had been called to discuss the issue as it was not of urgent nature.