‘PML-N chief backs political change in AJK’

21 January 2009
The Dawn

Muzaffarabad: Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif considers the recent political change in Azad Jammu and Kashmir as a democratic right of the people and has also given indications to strengthen the ideological bond between his party and Muslim Conference (MC). This was stated by MC (forward bloc) president Raja Farooq Haider and AJK legislative assembly speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir after holding a meeting with the former prime minister at his Raiwind residence on Tuesday. In reply to a question by Dawn, both the leaders described their meeting with Mr Sharif “very positive” during which they said the situation in both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir came under discussion. “Mian Sahib is fully abreast of all developments taking place on both sides of the LoC but sought our comments and feedback on a host of issues,” said Mr Haider, who is also an MLA. It may be recalled that the PML had traditionally been an ally of the MC, giving it moral and material support in electoral battles and otherwise. However, after the military coup of 1999 and split of the PML into pro-dictatorship and pro-democracy factions led by Chaudhrys of Gujrat and Sharifs of Lahore, respectively, the MC leadership joined hands with the former which distanced it from the latter. MC president Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan went to the extent of floating the novel idea of “military democracy” notwithstanding opposition by many vocal party leaders and also made comments in interviews against the exiled PML-N leaders. “Mian Sahib is in the know of all the twists and turns of those who owed much of their gains in politics to him and has no sympathies for such people,” Mr Haider said in a clear reference to Sardar Attique. According to him, Mr Sharif was of the view that the recent political change in AJK was the democratic right of the Kashmiri people and for the very reason his party had not intervened in it. “We want the people of AJK to be able to form and remove their governments on their own free will,” he quoted Mr Sharif as saying during the hour-long meeting. Mr Haider said the PML-N leader had also indicated reviving the linkage between his party and the pro-democracy Muslim Conference and would soon convene his party's meeting on this issue in Islamabad.