Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir on Monday rejected six references filed by the leaders of two opposition parties seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider for his controversial remarks on July 29 about the future of the disputed Himalayan region.
“On the basis of the verbal statement of Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, his written response and an affidavit [to his affirmations], I am of the opinion that these references carry no weight and are therefore rejected,” announced the speaker in what he said was an “interim decision.”
The references were filed separately by former premier and Muslim Conference president Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and four other MC leaders on August 7, and by Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Muhammad Yasin, who belongs to the PPP, on August 8.
The references were filed under Section 25(2) of the AJK Interim Constitution Act, read with Section 5(2) of the AJK Legislative Assembly (Election) Ordinance of 1970.
The “interim decision” was delivered by the speaker after hearing Haider and his counsel in his chamber in the presence of all but one of the six petitioners who had charged the premier with “violation of the oath of his office.”
The speaker, who was presiding over the Legislative Assembly session since morning, gave his seat to his deputy as he proceeded on the references in his chamber at about 12:50pm.
While representing the applicants, Khan said that the Kashmiris had annexed themselves to Pakistan on July 19, 1947, more than three weeks before the creation of the country.
“We knew only one Pakistan, but now the (AJK) prime minister is telling us there are different Pakistans for different leaders,” he jibed in reference to Haider’s remarks on July 29.
He pointed out that Haider had sworn allegiance to the ideology of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan thrice — as a candidate to the assembly, as MLA and, lastly, as PM.
“He has wilfully violated all three oaths by making highly controversial comments which warrant his disqualification,” he said.
On this, the speaker reminded the opposition leaders that (previously) he had received two disqualification references against Yasin and PTI lawmaker Deevan Ghulam Mohiyuddin, but neither of them appeared before him despite notices to this effect even though PM Haider had turned up in person to respond to the notices.