BARRISTER Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry and billionaire real estate tycoon Sardar Tanveer Ilyas were greatly being dubbed as the next Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan once again surprised everybody by choosing Abdul Qayyum Niazi for the top slot, who in fact was not in the race. Niazi secured thirty-three votes to become leader of the House in the AJK Legislative Assembly.
Only time will tell whether or not Niazi’s selection was correct but as far as his political career is concerned, he indeed is an experienced and veteran political worker. Niazi started his journey as a District Councillor.
Hailing from Darra Sher Khan village, he was twice elected as a DC between 1980 and 1990. He started his mainstream political journey from the platform of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in 2006 elections.
He managed to win his first election and was appointed as Food Minister by the then AJK Prime Minister Sardar Atiq Ahmad Khan. He also served as a Minister for Prisons during the same tenure.
In this backdrop, we understand he is fully cognizant of the problems facing the region and the interventions required to bring improvement in the living standards of the people there.
As PM Imran Khan has thrown his weight behind Niazi, he must be fully supported to execute mega development projects and address the issues particularly that of unemployment in Azad Kashmir.
Since PTI has only two years in the Centre now, therefore, it will have to go an extra mile to show its performance in AJK.
On the pattern of Balochistan, Interior Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan, a comprehensive package should also be announced for Azad Kashmir to exploit its potential especially in the realm of tourism, which will also send a positive image of AJK abroad.
The new AJK Prime Minister has great responsibility on his shoulders as he not only will have to look after the matters of AJK but also work towards highlighting the plight of Kashmiri people facing the Indian oppression on the other side of the Line of Control.