April 2004 News

Azad Kashmir ministers' resignations accepted

13 April 2004
The Dawn
Our Staff Correspondent

MUZAFFARABAD: AJK Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat on Tuesday accepted the resignations of four ministers and a parliamentary secretary. A crisis had hit the Muslim Conference after Revenue Minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, Industries Minister Mohammad Masood Khalid, Finance Minister Shah Ghulam Qadir, Transport Minister Hafiz Hamid Raza and Parliamentary Secretary Mir Ali Akbar handed over their resignations to the party's supreme head Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan in February in protest against the policies of the premier. They refused to withdraw the resignations and resume their responsibilities despite calls by the prime minister under instructions from 'the powers that be' and demanded a secret ballot to ascertain the will of the party's lawmakers. They sought the replacement of Sardar Sikandar by Muslim Conference President Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan as the prime minister. The prime minister and the party chief met at Kashmir House in Islamabad and issued a joint statement after it, which said that the resignations of the ministers 'submitted on personal grounds' had been accepted. 'The ministers who have resigned have resolved to play their dynamic role as legislators in line with the party discipline so that the government fulfils the promises it has made to public with the backing of the party and its lawmakers,' it said. The statement revealed that a 'consensus on party and government affairs' had been reached during the meetings of Sardar Sikandar, Sardar Qayyum and Sardar Attique and consultations with the parliamentary party. The services and general administration department issued two notifications which stated that the prime minister had accepted the resignations of the four ministers the parliamentary secretary. The notifications mentioned that the resignations were submitted to the prime minister on April 13. According to sources, the prime minister will have to retain the present strength of the cabinet, which now comprises eight members, as part of the 'deal' to which the 'powerful forces' are guarantors. 'That would mean trouble for the prime minister as he had promised cabinet slots to four lawmakers in return for their support to him during the crisis,' they claimed. Mr Qadir, who is the party's secretary-general, said he would cooperate with the government. 'We will wait for the fulfilment of the commitments,' he said. 'Since we had also failed to remove those grievances, we had no choice but to resign,' he said.


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