ISLAMABAD: With the existing tensions between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party, a recent move of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir might just add fuel to the fire to further flare up the situation.
Lately, the AJK government has sped up its anti-corruption drive which focuses primarily on the corruption in government funds in the past few years. This mainly implicates the top leadership of PPP AJK chapter that has been long accused of rampant corruption when the political party was in power (July 2011- July 2016).
Political sources in the know of things believe the accountability initiative has not gone down well with PPP’s central leadership which is facing pressure from its AJK leadership to act against their ‘political victimisation’.
On January 25, in what rang alarm bells for the PPP leadership, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider issued an official statement that contained a clear warning shot for Zardari’s party. Haider in the statement said he “has initiated ruthless accountability in AJK to bring to justice those who have been involved in the loot and plunder of local resources in the last few years, especially under the last PPP government.” The AJK premier’s office issued this statement during his visit to the UK.
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Haider said that he had ordered audit of all the allotments and employment positions handed down as political bribes in the last ten years. “There will be no revenge against any politician but ruthless accountability is demand of the masses,” the statement said.
Despite that the said statement was issued two months ago, it is only lately that the accountability drive in the AJK has been sped up and the government authorities have been instructed to show ‘no mercy’ in probing corruption mainly against the PPP leadership, The Express Tribune has learnt.
This is the key reason which explains why the PPP leadership has quietly replaced PPP AJK chapter’s president and former PM Chaudhry Abdul Majeed with Chaudhry Latif Akbar as the party chief in the region. Majeed has been facing serious allegations of mega corruption during his tenure as AJK’s premier.
“It was necessary to keep him from the limelight and place him backstage,” a PPP AJK leader said regarding Majeed’s removal. “The allegations of corruption and related investigation—the trails could lead to the party’s top level at the centre—we don’t want to attract unwanted attention.”
Another politician said the accountability drive was finalised sometime back as announced by the PM AJK in January but the move has political dimensions in the existing circumstances. “The timing does ring a bell. At a time when the PPP and PML-N government are at daggers drawn, this kind of move would flare up things further.”
The PML-N led federal government and PPP have been locked in serious differences after the PPP leader Sharjeel Memon landed in Islamabad from Dubai and was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) owing to cases of corruption levelled against him.
Memon and PPP leadership have minced no words to accuse Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and his federal government of ‘politically victimising’ the PPP. In a strong-worded warning shot, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah threatened to “throw federal departments out of Sindh” in an expression of displeasure over the working of NAB and FIA in Sindh that are probing the cases of mega corruption.
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Zardari, the PPP supremo, recently announced in Multan to launch full-scale political activities in Punjab and that his party would ‘snatch’ Punjab from PML-N in the next general elections.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Chaudhry Majeed said the PML-N government is in power in AJK for nearly a year. “Why right now?” he questioned the move to implicate PPP leadership in corruption cases.
“It looks like the PM AJK has some personal grudge against the PPP. Power is a double-edged sword. Today, they are in power, tomorrow we’ll be in power. They shouldn’t complain, then.” Majeed claimed that the PPP avoided political victimisation of rival parties during its tenure.
Asked to comment on the reasons of his removal, Majeed avoided sharing his views. “It’s the party’s decision. I have nothing to do with it. Whatever they deem suitable.”
Senior leader PML-N AJK and former PM Sardar Sikandar Hayat denied that the accountability drive had anything to do with political victimisation.
In response to a question regarding AJK PM’s statement from January 25, Hayat said that “PPP leadership is involved (in corruption) because they were in government in the previous tenure and the notorious tales of their mega corruption made headlines every single day.”
On Majeed’s assertion that PPP avoided victimising rival parties during its tenure, Hayat said “This is the first time the PML-N has formed government in AJK. And our leadership (in AJK) does not face corruption charges. On what grounds would they [PPP government] have victimised us when they were in power? A corrupt government cannot hold anyone accountable.”
Courtesy: Express Tribune