On his first visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Birjees Tahir failed to bring the government and opposition members to the table.
After his arrival in Muzaffarabad, the opposition parties in AJK Legislative Assembly, particularly Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), refused to attend an Iftar party and other functions hosted by the AJK government in honour of the minister.
In a lengthy one-on-one meeting between Tahir and PML-N AJK President and Opposition Leader Farooq Haider, sources revealed that the issue of illegal appointments in the Kashmir Council by Tahir’s predecessor Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo was discussed.
According to details, Haider provided the minister with documents carrying details of the corruption allegations against Wattoo and asked that they be probed thoroughly.
Haider also reportedly asked the visiting minister to reacquire all AJK government and the federal ministry’s vehicles from Wattoo’s possession.
According to sources, Wattoo used the official vehicles during the recent national elections in his constituency and those are still in his possession.
Haider also highlighted the issue of development schemes worth millions that exist only on paper, according to sources.
The meeting, held in the opposition chambers of the assembly, continued for several hours reportedly.
Tahir also met AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Majid, All Parties Hurriyat Conference’s local chapter and President Sardar Yaqoob Khan separately.
Tahir said the PML-N will not compromise on the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir, calling it a ‘foundation of our foreign policy’.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.
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