By Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza
Glasgow [UK], August 10 (ANI): The revelation that Pakistan occupied Kashmir's new Prime Minister has been shortlisted and selected by Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan not only shocked the people but also the newly elected members of the PoK legislative assembly and the wider support group of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Two candidates were thought to be the most favourite for the office of Prime Minister. First was former prime minister of PoK Barrister Sultan Mahmoud and the second was Tanveer Ilyas, a business tycoon who had recently earned the nickname of Imran Khan's new ATM machine.
A term coined during the pre-2018 election when Khan's close ally and billionaire sugar tycoon Jahangir Tareen had opened the doors of his vault.
Already blemished by accusations of rigging through bullying, violence and open offers of bribes to the electorate by the federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur, the announcement of former Muslim Conference leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi as the new prime minister came as a shock.
It was a decision too hard to swallow hence Tanveer Ilyas was made a senior minister in the newly formed PoK cabinet.
As soon as it was disclosed that Imran Khan will decide who will lead the PoK assembly for the next tenure, Barrister Sultan Mahmoud began to exert pressure on the Pakistani prime minister to nominate him as the new PM of PoK.
Imran Khan began to receive phone calls from members of Parliament and senior politicians from the UK and European countries requesting Khan to consider the Barrister for the apex post.
The last effort by Barrister Sultan Mahmoud was made during his meeting with the official from the US embassy in Islamabad. This manoeuvre annoyed Imran Khan who summoned the Barrister and told him off for asking the UK and European politicians to suggest his name for PoK prime minister.
Imran Khan was so annoyed that he made sure that the meeting between the two was broadcast during TV news and a mention of the prime minister telling Barrister Sultan Mahmoud was aired.
From then on it was clear that Barrister Sultan Mahmoud was no longer the party favourite for the post.
This came as a shock to many. Barrister Sultan Mahmoud has religiously followed the anti-Indian political narrative of Pakistan when it came to the issue of the so-called Kashmir conflict. By sidelining the Barrister, the Pakistani military establishment has taken a big risk.
Barrister Sultan Mahmoud has a large following in Mirpur district, which has been the epicentre of social and political unrest since Imran Khan came to power in 2018.
To risk ignoring Barrister Sultan Mahmoud can have serious repercussions in the politics of the occupied territory. If he quits PTI and joins Pakistan People's Party he can easily be proposed to become the leader of the opposition and give hard time to the selected government of PTI, which has already been accused of ignoring traditional candidates and issuing tickets to the highest bidder.
Brigadier Naeem Malik, the sector in charge of PoJK and Gilgit Baltistan has been released from his duties after being caught red-handed receiving bribe money from PTI candidates. The going rate was said to be 10 crore.
The elections held on July 25 were anything but transparent. PTI goons were reported to arrive at several polling stations with sticks where they beat up crowds who had gathered to exercise their right to vote.
This led to stoppage of voting for hours during which time the Pakistan army did not let anyone enter the polling stations while PTI presiding officers allegedly continued to stamp voters slips and fill the ballot boxes.
Barrister Sultan Mahmoud can use all of the above-mentioned discrepancies in the election process as an excuse to switch sides and ditch the PTI, a party that he so fondly helped to gain ground in PoJK.
On August 6, first signs of dissent among the PTI gang began to emerge when Barrister Sultan Mahmoud addressed a large gathering of his supporters in Mirpur.
Taunting on the recent elections to be akin to a 20/20 cricket match he said that he was a test match player. He consoled his voters by saying that better days will come.
Barrister Sultan Mahmoud has promised that he will ensure a final victory and soon start touring the whole of PoJK. This could be the beginning of the end of the PTI government in PoJK as the first signs of dissent emerge in Mirpur.
(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the UK) (ANI)