No-trust vote topples AJK PM Attique

6 January 2009
The Dawn
Tariq Naqash

Muzaffarabad: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly approved a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan on Tuesday by a big majority. Following his defeat, Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob Khan was sworn in as the eighth prime minister of the state. As the AJK Constitution makes it mandatory to name the successor of the incumbent prime minister in the no-confidence resolution, Sardar Yaqoob became the new Leader of the House after the motion was supported by 32 of the 46 members present in the assembly. Two members were absent. Sardar Yaqoob, 56, was administered oath by President Raja Zulqarnain Khan. The ceremony was attended by former prime ministers Sardar Sikandar Hayat and Barrister Sultan Mahmood. Sardar Attique and his supporters did not turn up. When the assembly session began at about 1130am, Law Minister Abdur Rasheed Abbasi raised objection to the agenda and expressed doubts about the impartiality of the chair. He said that “since the motion is being moved today”, the house could only hold a debate and the voting could be held after three and before seven days. People’s Party AJK secretary-general Chaudhry Latif Akbar and former law minister Raja Nisar Ahmed Khan of the Muslim Conference forward bloc said that the house could debate and vote on the resolution the same day. Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir gave the floor to Raja Farooq Haider, the mover of the resolution, who accused Sardar Attique of indulging in corruption and nepotism and deviating from the ideology of the Muslim Conference. He criticised the prime minister for spending a great deal of time outside Azad Kashmir. Sardar Attique defended his policies and actions and accused the federal government of interfering in affairs of the AJK in order to create political instability. He called upon democratic forces and political and religious leadership of Pakistan, including President Asif Ali Zardari, to save AJK from instability and its political parties from disintegration. Threatening to launch a campaign across Pakistan “if political interference in AJK is not stopped by the centre”, he said instability in Azad Kashmir could affect the rest of the country. He expressed hope that the new government would not dissolve the assembly and warned that if mid-term elections were held in AJK, the same would happen in Pakistan. He congratulated Omar Abdullah on becoming the Chief Minister of occupied Kashmir and expressed the hope that “he will play his role in improving the situation”. However, he clarified that he did not endorse the election held in occupied Kashmir because election could never be a substitute for a plebiscite. He said one could have differences with the political ideology of Omar Abdullah’s grandfather Sheikh Abdullah, but could not deny the efforts made by him to protect Kashmir’s identity. After Sardar Attique’s speech, the speaker announced voting on the resolution, ignoring pleas by at least three colleagues of the beleaguered prime minister for an opportunity to speak. After counting the raised hands, the speaker declared that the resolution had been adopted. Sardar Yaqoob thanked those who had voted for the resolution and vowed to run the government with the help of senior parliamentarians. “I will speak less and work more.” When the session was about to end, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Party (JKPP) president Sardar Khalid Ibrahim Khan handed over to officials his resignation from the assembly’s membership. He said he owed his electoral victory to the PPAJK and he had voted in favour of the no-trust motion, but the new set-p had come into being with the help of those “who describe Kashmiri militants as terrorists and say that India was never a threat to Pakistan”. “The new set-up has made a greater compromise on the Kashmir issue than the one that had been sent packing and I announce my resignation from the assembly,” he said.