Federal ministers accused of meddling in AJK affairs

4 January 2009
The Dawn

Muzaffarabad: Contrary to the assertions of Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, a group of his cabinet members on Sunday accused unnamed federal ministers of meddling in Azad Kashmir to “topple the region’s elected government through coercion and inducement”. The accusation was leveled by Senior Minister Malick Mohammad Nawaz, Health Minister Dr Najeeb Naqi Khan, Law Minister Abdur Rasheed Abbasi, Forests Minister Mirza Shafique Jaral, Population Welfare Minister Chaudhry Mohammad Ismail, Deputy Speaker Sardar Farooq Ahmed Tahir and Adviser to Prime Minister Shamim Ali Malick in a joint statement, whose preamble underlined the need of “complete harmony, solidarity and strengthening of institutions” while drawing attention to the economic and defence-related challenges confronting Pakistan. “At this point of time the entire sympathies of the people in AJK ought to be for Pakistan and its armed forces. But, contrarily the federal ministers are engaged in meddling and aggression in our territory with a motive to topple the elected Muslim Conference government through horse trading, coercion and inducement,” said the statement, which was faxed to this correspondent. The hard-hitting statement appeared to have been released as a desperate attempt to bring the federal government in a defensive position as until recently Prime Minister Sardar Attique had been emphatically saying that the federal government was not meddling in his administered area which is witnessing a serious political crisis that may culminate in the ouster of his government. “The federal ministers are out to get the AJK assembly dissolved through the setup they are trying to bring in for ultimate establishment of their party’s (PPAJK) government in the region,” the statement said. “At a time when India is trying to install a government in Occupied Kashmir against the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris, the conduct of federal ministers to dislodge a government of peoples’ choice in AJK runs counter to the interests of Pakistan,” it added. The ministers called upon “all those wielding authority in Pakistan to strengthen Muslim Conference and democratic institutions in AJK instead of contributing to any process aimed at dividing or weakening the state’s indigenous political organisation.” However, when contacted by this correspondent a spokesman for the ‘forward bloc’ condemned the allegations of AJK ministers as a manifestation of their “frustration” and made it clear that there was no involvement of the federal government in the ongoing political crisis. “The crisis originated due to the policies of the prime minister. And it’s the right of assembly members to replace the corrupt and inefficient regime by exercising their right to vote,” said MLA Mahmood Riaz. Referring to Sardar Attique as “head of a minority government” the spokesman asserted that in fact it was in the interest of freedom movement that a “broad-based national government” should come into being in AJK and added that there was complete consensus in all major political groups in this regard. The spokesman reiterated his claim that two ministers – Chaudhry Akbar Ibrahim and Raja Munsif Dad – had tendered their resignations and joined the forward bloc and more were in contact with them. “But we would not be disclosing their names at the moment out of a strategy,” he said, adding that the no confidence motion would go through with thumping majority. However, when contacted prime minister’s spokesman Afaq Hussain Shah said the prime minister had not received the resignation of any minister. “In fact Mr Ibrahim is in the group of those ministers who will be addressing a press conference on Monday to reaffirm their affiliation with the government,” he said.