In an interesting and unexpected turn of events on Thursday, Chaudhry Anwar-ul-Haq was unanimously elected as the 15th Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
Chaudhry received 48 votes out of a total of 52 in the scenic valley’s legislative assembly, the largest mandate in the assembly’s history.
The development occurred following the disqualification of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Sardar Tanveer Ilyas in a contempt case by the AJK High Court.
On Monday of this week, an assembly session meant to pick a new prime minister was adjourned without any voting. The Secretary of the Azad Kashmir Assembly verified that no nomination papers for any other candidate for the premiership had been submitted.
The AJK legislative assembly held an emergency meeting after midnight, during which Speaker Anwar-ul-Haq was elected Prime Minister.
The candidature papers were due in 15 minutes, and the voting was held after Haq was elected unopposed. Anwar-ul-Haq won 12 votes from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and seven votes from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
In his inaugural address to the assembly following his election, he stated that he competed as an independent candidate and received support from both PDM and PTI members. Chaudhry also struck a chord with opposition parties, forging a power-sharing agreement with them.
Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry, President of AJK, formed a forward bloc in the assembly, defying his own party. According to sources, Chaudhry’s advance bloc is backed by the PPP and the PML-N.
The AJK High Court dismissed Sardar Tanveer Ilyas last week for contempt of court, a big defeat for the PTI. The court ruled that Ilyas was ineligible to hold public office and directed the AJK Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Abdul Rasheed Sulehria to organize elections for his replacement as prime minister. Ilyas was summoned to AJK’s supreme and high courts for employing a “threatening tone” in one of his remarks, according to the court’s judgment.