Islamabad accused of meddling in AJK affairs

21 August 2009
The Dawn
Tariq Naqash

MUZAFFARABAD: The ruling faction of Muslim Conference got a much needed moral boost on Friday after another constituent of the coalition government in Azad Kashmir People's Muslim League of Barrister Sultan Mahmood joined hands with it warning Prime Minister Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob Khan to conform to settled principles and decisions. At a press conference which was also attended and addressed by a representative of PML, MC-F president Raja Farooq Haider announced that the cabinet members from both parties had handed over their resignations to their respective heads and would not attend to their offices as a mark of protest until 'there is visible improvement' in line with their 'principled stand.' Mr Haider disclosed that the joint parliamentary party meeting of MC-F and PML would be held on Monday (August 24) at the Islamabad residence of Mr Mahmood to decide future course of action. Flanked by four out of the seven ministers of his party, the MC-F chief reiterated allegations that the PPP-led central government was meddling in the affairs of AJK which according to him had dented the reputation of the coalition government. 'Sardar Yaqoob has virtually been held hostage by the Peoples Party.... He is being forced to take decisions which are damaging the identity of the state,' he alleged. Some federal ministers, he said, were trying to dictate their terms in every matter which was absolutely unacceptable to MC-F and the PML. Though apparently both parties have several grievances against Prime Minister Khan as well as the PPAJK, another key component of multi-party government, what has instantly brought them close to each other is allocation of local government and rural development to prime minister's unelected adviser Chaudhry Mohammad Yasin who is also senior vice-president of PPAJK. Mr Haider said though it had been unanimously decided at the inception of the coalition government that no unelected adviser would be inducted, 'yet we digested the appointment of Mr Yasin to regard the desire of President Asif Ali Zardari.' 'But it was unambiguously resolved there and then that Mr Yasin would not be given any portfolio and what has happened is blatant negation of settled principles.' Speaking on the occasion, PML representative and minister for industries Deevan Ghulam Mohiuddin said his party had conveyed its grievances to the prime minister about a month ago but there had not been any remedial measures. Meanwhile, federal minister for population welfare Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan on Friday dismissed allegations that the federal government was meddling in the political and administrative affairs of Azad Kashmir. Speaking at a press conference here, she asserted that the PPP-led federal government believed in democracy and stability and freedom of democratic institutions and had under the same spirit avoided interference in the affairs of AJK government. Ms Awan said the federal government had given full authority to the AJK population welfare department to utilise funds provided by it for the purpose.