AJK premier loses support of 11 legislators
9 September 2004
Our Staff Correspondent
Muzaffarabad: AJK Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat suffered a blow on Thursday as an 11-member 'like-minded group' of Muslim Conference lawmakers announced withdrawal of its support to him and called for fresh election of the ruling party's parliamentary leader. 'We don't have confidence in the prime minister and today we withdraw our support to him. Obviously, it means he has lost the trust of majority in the house and should therefore step down to pave way for the election of party's new parliamentary leader,' said Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, a spokesman for the group, at a news conference attended by eight lawmakers. They spoke to reporters in the office of deputy speaker Sanaullah Qadri soon after staging a walkout from the house and causing lack of quorum 'to send a message that they were no more with the government.' Formed in early July, the 'like- minded group' includes deputy speaker Sanaullah Qadri, former ministers Shah Ghulam Qadir, Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, Hafiz Hamid Raza, Chaudhry Masood Khalid, former parliamentary secretary Mir Ali Akbar, Public Accounts Committee chairman Sardar Tahir Anwar, MLAs Raja Muhammad Yasin, Deevan Ali Chughtai, Sahibzada Attiqur Rehman Faizpuri and Ms Naheed Tariq. The group members had taken an oath that they would decide their parliamentary affairs with mutual consultation and protect at all costs the integrity and legitimate interests of each other while abiding by the party's ideology and discipline. Mr Farooq said three of their colleagues - deputy speaker, Mr Faizpuri and Ms Tariq - could not join them for being abroad but were fully 'in touch and involved in the decisions of the group.' He demanded that the party supreme head Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan and party president Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan convene the parliamentary party meeting to resolve the issue of parliamentary leader. Sardar Attique, it may be noted here, was already at loggerheads with the prime minister, and the confrontation between the two picked up momentum after the premier made some unpleasant remarks about him in interviews. The MC chief, who supports the views of 'like-minded group' but is not its member, had called a joint meeting of parliamentary party members and party's central office-bearers at Kashmir House on Sept 5. But, the prime minister involved Sardar Qayyum to get that meeting cancelled till some appropriate time. Mr Farooq said the prime minister had become controversial and they would not attend any meeting if called by him. 'The supreme head or president of the party should call the meeting to decide the fate of the person who has lost trust of the majority,' he said. He said they had so far restrained themselves from openly expressing distrust in the prime minister, but the attitude of the government had brought them 'at the end of their tether.' 'We wanted to take the political situation towards betterment, but the government did not demonstrate positive attitude and instead started humiliating the lawmakers and political workers,' he alleged. He said the government had also resorted to their 'victimization' and the promises made to them to get the current year's budget passed had not been honoured. 'Ironically, despite our cooperation, the prime minister ignored the parliamentary party decisions to continue his policy of personal liking and disliking.' The premier, he said, was constantly blackmailing the party leadership by scaring them of division in the party in a bid to retain power. Asked if their move could harm the system, he replied in the negative. 'Let me tell you the system is strong (in AJK) and will never suffer any damage with the coming in or going out (of power) of any person.' Asked if they would go for a no-trust move against the PM, he said any decision in this regard would be taken after mutual consultations. He made it clear that 'as yet they had not launched any formal campaign to increase their strength.' 'If we did so, the prime minister's supporters (in the parliamentary party) would be reduced to same strength as he enjoyed at the time of nomination by the powerful quarters for this office.'