PPP Continues ‘reconciliatory Policy’ In AJK24 July 2011
Lahore: The ninth legislative council of independent part of state Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) will take oath today (Monday) as the result of 48 seats out of 49 having been notified by the election commission. According to the latest position after the elections on ‘reserved seats’ the PPP leads the House with 29 seats while the second largest party is PML-N with 11 legislators. The Muslim Conference led by former Prime Minister Sardar Attique has four members in the House and MQM has representation with two members while All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) has one female member in the House. The PPP continued its ‘policy of reconciliation’ in AJK as well and the seat given to the APHC was conceded to Mrs Mehrunnisa, deputy speaker in the last assembly and wife of APHC leader Yousaf Naseem. She was an active member of Muslim Conference but contested the election under the banner of APHC and the PPP supported her. This fact also indicates the unannounced alliance of the PPP and the Muslim Conference. Soon after taking oath the House will also elect its Speaker and then Deputy Speaker on the same day. Since the PPP has absolute majority in the House so the win of its candidates is written on the wall. The party however has not announced any candidate till the filing of this report and political circles are of the view that the sister of president Asif Ali Zardari, Ms Faryal Talpur, is likely to reach Muzaffarabad today (Monday) morning and announce her party’s candidates. Political circles hinted at the name of Sardar Latif Akbar, Secretary General of the AJ&K PPP, who belongs to Muzzafarabad division. They are of the view that following its ‘policy of reconciliation’, the PPP will accommodate its allies’ man on the slot of Deputy Speaker. This person can be a MQM legislator or one returned from one of the seats reserved for ‘Refugees’ settled in Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention here that this time major political parties of Pakistan, PML-N, PPP and MQM, directly participated in the elections. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif held public meetings to support their party candidates while Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his cabinet members were out for the PPP nominees. The noteworthy point is that the assembly taking oath today is the ninth as the democratic setup in Kashmir was introduced in 1970 under the presidential system on the basis of adult franchise when Sardar Mohammad Abdul Qayyum Khan took over charge as the first elected President of AJ&K as the head of the government and head of the state as well. The first assembly also came into being and the people of AJ&K and the refugees of Jammu and Kashmir settled in Pakistan elected the Legislative Assembly as well as the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The Presidential system worked for four years. Later on in 1974, some major constitutional changes were made when the interim constitution, 1974, was adopted and a parliamentary system of democracy was introduced in the independent part of the State. The parliamentary system was introduced and the prime minister, as the executive head of the state, was elected by the majority of the votes of the Assembly members. Mr. Khan Abdul Hameed Khan was elected as the first Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan was elected as the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. This government was suspended in August 1977 due to the imposition of Martial Law in Pakistan. Brigadier Muhammad Hayat Khan was appointed as chief executive and later on Major General (retd) Abdul Rehman was appointed as President-Chief Executive in February 1983. In 1985 Martial Law was lifted and a civilian setup was established in Pakistan, the elections for the Legislative Assembly of AJ&K were held and Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan took over charge as Prime Minister and Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan as the President of the State. They both were leaders of the Muslim Conference and close associates of then dictator General Ziaul Haq. General Zia used to call Sardar Qayyum Khan his murshid (religious mentor). Dictator Zia always supported him and with the blessings of Zia he ruled AJ&K. This Assembly was elected for five years and worked till 1990. Elections were held in 1990 for the fourth time. This time the PPP had come into power in Islamabad and late Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister. The PPP leader in Kashmir Raja Mumtaz Hussain Rathore was elected as Prime Minister. The PPP government in Pakistan was dissolved and the trickledown effects reached Muzaffarabad as well. It was very difficult for Mumtaz Rathore to continue as Prime Minister and before any no-confidence motion could be filed against him, he dissolved the Assembly. The fifth government in Azad Kashmir came into existence and Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan became the Prime Minister and Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan was elected as President. This government worked for five years up to 1996. Fresh elections were held in 1996 to elect the sixth legislature and PPP leader Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry was elected Prime Minister and Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan President. The next elections for the constitution of the seventh legislature were held in 2001 and a group of Muslim Conference led by Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan won the polls and formed the government. Major General (retd) Sardar Mohammad Anwar Khan was elected President with the support of the Musharraf-led authorities in Pakistan. The constitution was amended once again and through the 11th constitutional amendment one more seat was approved for AJ&K; thus the total strength of seats for AJ&K became 49. If we look at the detail of seats in AJ&K, we find seats reserved for the people living in Azad Kashmir at 29, refugees settled in Pakistan 12, Women 5, and one each for Ulema, Overseas Kashmiris and Technocrats. Out of these 49 seats, the 12 reserved for refugees living in Pakistan are always won by people who have the support of the sitting government in Pakistan. History tells these 12 members of the AJ&K assembly always belong to the ruling party in Pakistan. The polling for these 12 seats held in Pakistan and the sitting governments always maneouvre their favourites’ win. These 12 MLAs play a vital role in making or breaking governments in Azad Kashmir. The next elections were held in 2006 and it was a time when Musharraf was ruling here and his favourite got the slot of the chief executive. This legislature saw many changes and prime ministers were changed several times. This assembly set several records and three prime ministers were changed during its constitutional tenure.