16-member AJK cabinet sworn in
7 August 2006
Muzaffarabad: A 16-member Azad Jammu and Kashmir cabinet was sworn in on Monday. Apart from the ministers, Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan had also appointed three advisers and one special assistant to himself, with rank and status equivalent to minister. The cabinet was administered oath by AJK President Sardar Anwar Khan at a brief ceremony which was attended besides the premier by President-elect Raja Zulqarnain Khan, Legislative Assembly Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir and others. Later, two advisers and the special assistant were administered oath by the prime minister at a separate ceremony. Interestingly, both the ceremonies were held at the Kashmir House in Islamabad, instead of Muzaffarabad which is the seat of the AJK government. The new cabinet, which included one woman, had representation from all the eight AJK districts as well as Kashmiri refugees settled in Pakistan. However, Kotli district had got the lionís share as out of five MLAs elected from there, four had been made ministers. Two each were elected from Muzaffarabad and Bhimber districts and one each from Bagh, Poonch, Sudhnoti and Mirpur districts. A female lawmaker, elected against a reserved seat, was inducted from the quota of Neelum district. Two MLAs from Jammu region and one from Kashmir valley, settled in Pakistan, were also made ministers. Names and portfolios of the ministers are Mallick Mohammad Nawaz, electricity (senior minister); Sardar Naeem Khan, revenue, evacuee property and stamps; Raja Nisar Ahmed Khan, finance, planning and development; Raja Naseer Khan, local government and rural development (Kotli district); Abdul Rasheed Abbasi, law and parliamentary affairs; and Ghulam Murtaza Gillani, forests, Azad Kashmir Logging and Sawmills Corporation and Azad Kashmir Mineral and Industrial Development Corporation (Muzaffarabad); Col (retired) Raja Naseem Khan, works, communications, development authorities, rehabilitation and reconstruction (Bagh); Abdul Qayyum Niazi, food, cooperatives and prisons (Poonch); Dr Najeeb Naqi, health (Sudhnoti); Chaudhry Mohammad Yousaf, trade and industries, labour, Mangla Dam affairs (Mirpur); Mirza Mohammad Shafique, agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries; and Chaudhry Ali Shan Soni, youth affairs, sports and culture (Bhimber); Shamim Ali Mallick, social welfare and women development (Neelum); Hafiz Hamid Raza, Zakat, Ushar, Auqaf, transport and religious affairs; and Chaudhry Akbar Ibrahim, tourism, wildlife and environment (refugees of Jammu); and Sanaullah Qadri, rehabilitation, civil defence, armed services board from (refugees of Kashmir valley). The advisers to the prime minister are Chaudhry Tariq Farooq (Bhimber), Raja Mohammad Yasin Khan (Bagh) and Naheed Tariq MLA (Mirpur), whereas Dr Sardar Haleem Khan (Poonch) is the special assistant. Naheed Tariq, who was also elected against reserved seats, did not show up at the swearing in ceremony at the Kashmir House. The new cabinet held its informal meeting at the Kashmir House which was also attended by the advisers. The premier directed the ministers and advisers to pay their first official visits to the quake-hit areas instead of their native towns. Meanwhile, according to another notification, the prime minister had appointed Haji Gule Khandan as chairman of the Implementation Commission. Mr Khandan had lost to Peoples Party candidate from Neelum valley in the July 11 polls.