PPP’s Sardar Yaqoob Elected AJK President29 July 2011
Muzaffarabad: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate, Sardar Yaqoob Khan, has been elected new president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) by securing 40 votes on Friday. His rival Khan Bahadur Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) obtained only 11 votes. Sardar Yaqoob served as the AJK prime minister in the last tenure of the legislature and was a health minister in Sardar Sikandar Hayat’s cabinet in 2001. He has a long association with the Muslim Conference and joined the PPP a few months before the general elections. Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Mian Manzoor Wattoo also cast his vote while PPP General Secretary Jehangir Badr and several other party leaders were present on the occasion. Besides the AJK assembly members, six Kashmir Council members, that is considered the upper house of the state, and Pakistan Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs are the voters for presidential elections. The total vote are 56 but 51 cast their vote, as two seats are still vacant. Khan Muhammad and Pervaiz Malik, the two members of the Kashmir Council, and one newly elected MLA Raja Naseer did not cast their vote. Chaudhry Majeed, the newly elected AJK prime minister, persuaded the PML-N legislators to get his candidate elected unopposed, however, the Muslim Conference and MQM legislators voted for the PPP candidate. Chaudhry Latif Akbar was a strong candidate for the slot and till the time of filing the nomination papers he was being considered the PPP candidate but a slip from Islamabad showed him the door and entered Yaqoob Khan instead. The political circles are of the view that his nomination was cleared by Faryal Talpur, a PPP central leader and sister of President Asif Ali Zardari. Chaudhry Akbar was earlier nominated for the office of the speaker by the PPP but he refused to contest the election and vied for the office of the president after Chaudhry Abdul Majeed was chosen by the PPP as the prime minister. The political circles are of the view that his refusal to become speaker discredited him for the office of presidential in the AJK. The voting process took place on the premises of the AJK Legislative Council building. It was administered by Khawaja Muhammad Saeed, Chief Election Commissioner of AJK, and continued from 11am to 3pm with one-hour break for Friday prayer. Sardar Yaqoob remained very active in the state politics and moved a no confidence motion against Sardar Ateeq Ahmed Khan in 2009, as a result of which he held the office of the AJK prime minister for nine months. The newly elected president will take oath on August 26, as the term of incumbent constitutional head would expire on August 25. The AJK constitution demands presidential election one month before the end of outgoing president’s term. Talking to the media after his success, he said that it was all due to Bhuttos, Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur. He said that he would behave as per demands of the office and his doors were open for all and every decision would be taken after consultation.