MUZAFFARABAD: Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, a PTI nominee and sole contender for the position of prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, was on Monday elected unopposed as AJK new prime minister as no candidate had filed nomination papers against him.
The election was held in a Legislative Assembly session chaired by Speaker Anwarul Haq. Ilyas got 33 votes while 20 opposition members stayed away from polling. Prior to the election, bells were rung in the assembly for five minutes after which the doors of the house were closed.
After the attendance, the members left the house and returned soon after the bells rang again. The speaker announced the results, according to which 33 members were present in the 53-member house while 20 members were absent. All the 33 members present voted in favour of Ilyas and he was elected unopposed as leader of the house.
Later, AJK President Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry administered the oath of office to Ilyas. The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, Muzaffarabad, and attended by Legislative Assembly Speaker Anwarul Haq, former federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur, members of the Legislative Assembly, AJK Chief Secretary Shakeel Qadir Khan and others. The AJK president also administered oath to Ministers Khwaja Farooq Ahmed and Chaudhry Akhlaq Ahmed.
Earlier, in his maiden speech to the Legislative Assembly, Ilyas, while reiterating his party’s vision to turn AJK into a self-reliant state, said the welfare of people and development works are amongst his top priorities. He said government funds will be utilized for the welfare of people. Referring to his government’s action plan, he said that besides initiating mega development projects in the region, the government will focus on improving road infrastructure, promoting tourism and small industries. He said as there is a huge potential in the tourism sector, the government will take all possible measures to promote tourism in the region.
“The promotion of tourism would generate economic activities besides creating job opportunities for the youth,” he said, adding that ministers and secretaries will be given a target of 3 months to show their performance. PTI Chairman Imran Khan's vision will be put into practice and workers will be given their rightful place. Regarding the road-infrastructure, he said: “The government will take up the matter with the federal government for extending the Murree Expressway to Kohala and install roadside safety barriers that will reduce accidents.” He said Sui gas will be supplied to Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot. “A feasibility report regarding the laying of a railway track from Rawalpindi to Muzaffarabad will be prepared soon,” he said, adding that the government will start its own airline through a public-private partnership.
Reaffirming Kashmiris’ unconditional love for Pakistan, he said: “Pakistan is the centre of our hopes.” He condemned blasphemous caricatures published in the Netherlands and called on the United Nations to socially and diplomatically boycott the countries which insult other religions. He thanked the PTI leadership, particularly Imran Khan, Asad Umar, Ali Amin Gandapur and Barrister Sultan Mahmood, and all assembly members for expressing confidence in his leadership.
He said efforts will be made to create special business opportunities for women. The PTI government will bring a real change and transform Kashmir into a self-reliant state where the standard of living of the common man will be raised. “We will provide quality accommodation to refugees residing in different camps of Azad Kashmir,” he said and expressed his desire to rename the University of Muzaffarabad after veteran Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Gillani owing to his selfless services for the Kashmir cause. Urging India to shun its traditional policy of intransigence and resolve the lingering Kashmir dispute in line with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people, the AJK PM said India cannot deprive Kashmiris of their basic rights for long. “Sooner or later, India will have to hold a referendum in Kashmir,” he said, adding that the BJP government’s dream of Akhand Bharat will never come true. He instructed his party workers not to be part of any negative propaganda regarding Pakistan. “The enemy wants to turn us against our own army. It is our responsibility to foil such conspiracies.”