Sardar Atique's election challenged: Qayyum asked to take over as party chief
2 October 2004
Our Staff Correspondent
Muzaffarabad: AJK Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat on Saturday disputed the election of Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan as ruling Muslim Conference president and asked Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan to take over as MC chief to save the party. 'Sardar Abdul Qayyum should accept the office of MC president. I and my ministers fully agree to his name. That is the only way to save the party and if it is not done, I am afraid the party will meet a bad fate,' he told a news conference at his office soon after holding the cabinet meeting. 'Morally, I am on a strong footing because the majority of the MC parliamentary party supports me. Even two legislators from the 11-member (like-minded group) have also shown readiness to support me,' the PM said, asserting that he also enjoyed the trust of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. 'I have no inferiority complex and I will not be blackmailed.' Referring to the Wednesday's meeting of MC central office bearers in Rawalpindi which had demanded his resignation besides elevation of Sardar Attique as prime minister, Mr Hayat said there was no such forum in the party's constitution. 'It was a gathering of irrelevant persons who did not have any authority to discuss the removal or replacement of prime minister,' he said. About the election of Sardar Attique as MC president, he claimed that it was not conducted in accordance with the procedure laid down in the party's constitution, but he did not touch this issue over the past three years as he did not want to indulge in controversy. 'They did not wait for my return from the hospital and ironically the person who was installed as so-called president started destabilizing the government from the day one,' he said. The PM also regretted that Sardar Qayyum had not played the role warranted by the present situation and called upon him not to allow any harm to the party and its government at the hands of 'immature people'. Answering to questions, the prime minister denied there was any crisis in AJK. 'Where is crisis? I have just presided over the cabinet meeting. Lately, we passed seven bills in the assembly. We have also passed the budget. What else is the job of the parliamentary party,' he said. He emphasised that he would stay in the electoral politics, contest the next elections while staying in the Muslim Conference. Referring to the prescribed procedure to elect and remove the prime minister, he said 'Nothing will happen to the government but my only concern is the party. The government will complete its term and will return to power in next elections on the basis of its performance.' To a question, he said the cabinet would soon be expanded with the induction of eight to nine ministers. 'There would be no restriction from me to the return (in cabinet) of those who have resigned on their own,' he told another questioner. When asked by this reporter if the present situation could lead him to announce fresh elections, he said that could only happen after the premature dissolution of assembly and he would not do it to 'blemish his record'. 'But one should not say anything which he could not adhere to at any stage later on. When there would be attempts from all sides to remove me, then why wouldn't I sign a piece of paper and say okay I go to my home and you go to yours,' he said referring to the prime minister's powers to advice for dissolution of assembly. However, he reiterated that he would not take any such step. Apart from the eight cabinet members, LA speaker Sardar Siab Khalid, MLAs Mrs Noreen Arif, Mrs Shireen Waheed, Khan Abdul Waheed Khan, Yasin Gulshan and Syed Shaukat Shah were also present on the occasion.