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PTI’s Abdul Qayyum Niazi elected as premier of PaK

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Islamabad: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party’s Abdul Qayyum Niazi was on Wednesday elected as the new premier of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK), hours after Prime Minister Imran Khan nominated him for the top post following extensive consultations.

Niazi received 33 votes in the 53-member newly formed legislative assembly of PaK, whereas joint opposition’s candidate Chaudhry Latif Akbar secured just 15 votes, according to the official result.

He succeeds Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Raja Farooq Haider, whose tenure had ended on July 30.

Niazi won the recent legislative assembly election from Abbaspur-Poonch area.

Prime Minister Khan’s party has secured 32 seats in the 53-member House. It is for the first time that the PTI will form a government in PaK.

India has rejected the recent elections in PaK, saying the “cosmetic exercise” was nothing but an attempt by Pakistan to “camouflage its illegal occupation” and that it has lodged a strong protest over the issue.

Reacting strongly on the elections in the PaK, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that Pakistan has “no locus standi on these Indian territories” and “it must vacate all Indian areas under its illegal occupation”.

“The so-called elections in Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan are nothing but an attempt by Pakistan to camouflage its illegal occupation and the material changes undertaken by it in these territories,” he said last week.

“Such an exercise can neither hide the illegal occupation by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation, and denial of freedom to people in these occupied territories,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that Prime Minister Khan picked Niazi to lead the PTI government in PaK after extensive consultations.

“After a long consultation and review of suggestions, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Chairman PTI Imran Khan has nominated the newly elected MLA Mr Abdul Qayyum Niazi for the post of Prime Minister” of PaK, he wrote.

The minister also termed Qayyum as “a dynamic and genuine political activist, dedicated to his workers”.

Khan had interviewed several elected members on Friday and Saturday, including Sardar Tanvir Ilyas, Barrister Sultan Mahmood, Khawaja Farooq, Azhar Sadiq and Niazi.

He reportedly asked them about the strategy and views on environment, tourism and national and international issues.

A majority of experts said that Ilyas and Sultan Mahmood were the top contenders and among them most of them agreed that Ilyas was the favourite. But Niazi proved a dark horse to get the top slot though he was hardly noticed.

Niazi was a member of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference before leaving it to join the PTI two years ago. He was also elected from the platform of the Muslim Conference in 2006 and has also served as the Minister of Food.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have 12 and 7 seats, respectively in the House. Both All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference and Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party won one seat each.

The ruling party’s candidates Anwarul Haq and Riaz Gujjar have been elected as Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.

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