On Thursday, Chaudhry Anwar-ul-Haq was sworn in as the new prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) during a ceremony at the President’s House. Haq, who is a member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) forward bloc, was elected by the Legislative Assembly as the 15th prime minister of AJK on Wednesday.
The oath was administered by AJK President Barrister Sultan Mahmood, and the ceremony was attended by various opposition and PTI forward bloc members. In his address, the newly elected premier expressed his belief that political forces could change the fate of the region if they acted in a fair manner. He also vowed to hold accountable all those who looted the state’s resources and said that the government, in collaboration with the Pakistan Democratic Movement, would fight for the rights of their Kashmiri brethren across the globe.
Haq’s election as the prime minister of AJK was unexpected as he was elected with the support of opposition parties PPP and PML-N, as well as a majority of his party’s dissidents, who had formed a forward bloc. Haq secured 48 votes in the House of 53, while four legislators were absent, and one seat was vacant due to the disqualification of the former prime minister.
Haq had been serving as the assembly speaker since August 2021, and he was elected unopposed as the leader of the house during the early hours of Thursday after forming a 12-member forward bloc in the PTI and forging an alliance with the combined opposition, comprising PPP and PML-N lawmakers. When polling was held to meet the constitutional requirement, all 48 members present in the house voted for him. Two lawmakers from the PTI and one each from two state-based parties did not show up.
In his address following the oath-taking, Haq promised to establish the rule of law and merit in AJK. He said that change required time but assured the people that they would witness change after the initial phase of forming the government was completed. Haq also said that facilities in AJK were only available to a specific class and not the common man, and he vowed to make the accountability system transparent.
On the Kashmir issue, he promised to convey the voice of the people with all his strength at home and abroad for the early accomplishment of their common cause. Earlier, Haq made it clear that he had contested the prime minister’s election as an independent candidate with the support of the combined opposition, who he referred to as the “PDM.” He thanked the PTI lawmakers for reposing their trust and confidence in his leadership.
In conclusion, Chaudhry Anwar-ul-Haq’s election as the new prime minister of AJK marks a significant change in the political landscape of the region. With the support of opposition parties and his party’s dissidents, Haq has a significant mandate to bring about positive change in the region. Only time will tell if he can deliver on his promises of transparency, accountability, and a better future for the people of AJK.