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18 AJK ministers sworn in

August 02, 2011

MUZAFFARABAD, Aug 2: AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed on Tuesday inducted 18 directly elected legislators of his People’s Party except one in his cabinet raising its strength to 19 in the first phase.

The ministers were administered oath by AJK President Raja Zulqarnain Khan at a ceremony held after Asar prayers on the lawn of Legislative Assembly building. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of people including the prime minister and PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr.

Though no notification regarding the allocation of the portfolios had been issued, the prime minister in a brief question/answer session with media persons read out the slots of the ministers as PPAJK Secretary General Chaudhry Latif Akbar (planning and development), Main Abdul Waheed (school education), Sardar Javed Ayub (forests), Chaudhry Mohammad Rasheed (communications and works), Syed Bazil Naqvi (information), Sardar Qamaz uz Zaman (health), Faisal Rathore (Azad Kashmir logging and sawmills corporation), Akhtar Rabbani (agriculture), Javed Iqbal Badanvi (food), Matloob Inqilabi (college education and information technology), Afsar Shahid (religious affairs and auqaf), Chaudhry Mohammad Arshad (electricity), Chaudhry Pervez Ashraf (housing and physical planning), Chaudhry Ali Shan Soni (revenue), Abdul Majid Khan (rehabilitation), Syed Azhar Gillani (law, justice and parliamentary affairs), Abdus Salam Butt (transport) and Akbar Ibrahim was given the slot of the minister of trade and industries.

The oath-taking was earlier scheduled to be held on Monday (August 1) but it was postponed due to internal rift in the PPAJK and later it was decided all the directly elected MLAs would be inducted in the cabinet.

It may be recalled that in general elections, the PPAJK and its backed independent candidates had gained victory in 23 constituencies and later its strength had risen to 29 as it had bagged 6 out of the 8 special seats.

Of them, four took oath as speaker and deputy speaker on July 25 and prime minister and senior minister on July 26 whereas a fifth PPAJK legislator made it to the presidency on July 29. Of the remaining 24, Barrister Sultan Mehmood and five elected against special seats had not been given cabinet berths in the first phase.

Apart from them, 2 MQM members, who are allies of the PPAJK, could not be inducted in the first phase as their Rabta Committee was yet to take a decision in this regard.

MQM lawmaker Tahir Khokhar had been the tourism minister in the previous Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan-led government and Prime Minister Ch Abdul Majeed did not allot this portfolio to anyone on Tuesday.

Mr Khokhar in interaction with the media has been giving the impression ever since the inception of the new government that MQM would be given tourism ministry though one of his aides told Dawn on Tuesday that they were interested in information ministry.

There were also unconfirmed reports that at least 3 out of 5 Muslim Conference lawmakers could also be inducted in the cabinet under the policy of reconciliation and rapprochement as they had voted for the PPAJK’s candidates for the offices of speaker, deputy speaker, prime minister and president.

Meanwhile, the secretary AJK Legislative Assembly on Tuesday notified PML-N chief organiser and former prime minister Raja Farooq Haider as leader of the opposition. The PML-N has 11 members in the assembly.