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Local politicians have no say in PoK, decisions taken in Islamabad

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Islamabad: The recent victory for the ruling Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK) is being publicly projected as the result of alleged “bad governance and corruption” by the previous Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led regime.

However, according to an article published in the Dawn, bad governance or corruption were not the only reasons for the PPP’s electoral loss, as people were also upset with the interference of PPP’s central leaders in affairs of the region.

The article states that it was an open secret that the strings of the government in Muzaffarabad were being pulled by people in Islamabad and Karachi.

PoK’s ex-chief minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed was the chief executive in name, and the shots were called by former Pak president Asif Ali Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur.

And to further complicate the situation, the authority on her behalf was exercised by Chaudhry Mohammad Riaz, who was one of the caretakers of Zardari House in Islamabad.

In an attempt to provide him the fig leaf of law, he was also appointed as the adviser to former Chief Minister Majeed with the status of minister in December 2013.

However, Riaz never attended his office in Muzaffarabad and instead opted to sit in Islamabad’s Kashmir House where he took decisions on PoK affairs.

Such was his influence with Talpur, that senior officials would fawn on him for postings of their choice.

“Yes, I knew that every summary about postings and transfers would be first sent to Mr. Riaz for getting approval from Ms Talpur and only then the prime minister would give his assent,” said one official privy to the wheeling and dealing of the past five years.

Apart from that, members of the cabinet, PPP cadres had also developed “direct links” with PPP leaders holding important official positions in Islamabad, mostly on the strength of Biradri (community) to dictate terms to former Chief Minister Majeed.

However, not much change is expected in the situation, as unfortunately, the PML-N, seems to be no better in terms of being a political alternative.

It appears to be following the same decisions made somewhere else and conveyed to Muzaffarabad for implementation, which made the PPP unpopular.

The PML-N workers were stunned when Dr Asif Saeed Kirmani, a special assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, tweeted: “It (appointment of PoK PM) is our internal party matter and we will announce it at an appropriate time.”

When the newly-elected legislators of the PML-N held their first informal meeting in Muzaffarabad to draw names for the eight special seats in AJK Assembly which include, five seats reserved for women and one each for technocrats, religious scholars and overseas Kashmiris, the party’s parliamentary group was shocked as the list smelled of favouritism.

The six names included Sehrish Qamar, Nasira Azeem and Nasima Wani for the three seats of women, and Jamaat-i-Islami’s AJK chief Abdul Rashid Turabi, Pir Ali Raza Bukhari and Raja Javed for the seats for technocrats, religious scholars and overseas Kashmiris, respectively.

The name for one woman seat was left to the parliamentary party’s discretion.

Qamar is the daughter of Nawaz Sharif’s personal assistant, who hails from AJK; Azeem, is an office-bearer in the PPP government who joined the PML-N just three months ago; and Wani is the wife of an Islamabad-based leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

The local PML-N workers, are also simmering with resentment and their anger is directed at Dr Kirmani as they believe that he is trying to reprise the role played by Faryal Talpur for the PPP.

Analyst Arif Bahar says that there should be no middlemen between Prime Minister Sharif and his regional chief because the go-betweens usually create misunderstandings and problems for their vested interests. (ANI)

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