November 2002 News

Power struggle in PoK issue for Pak PM

24 November 2002
The Statesman

New Delhi: A key issue that Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali — the first Baluch to assume the Prime Minister’s office — will have to tackle is the serious rift and bitter power struggle among the top leadership of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, that threatens to destabilise Islamabad’s influence over the region. There have been reports of simmering discontent in PoK, diplomatic observers said, ever since Sardar Mohammad Anwar Khan was appointed as President of the region, with both the President and the Prime Min-ister, Mr Sikandar Hayat Khan, making their displeasure public in Islamabad. Sardar Anwar was a serving Major-General in the Pakistan Army, with around a year of service left, when he was told to “opt for retirement” and “take over the reins of power” in PoK (in August) by Islamabad. Having been appointed by the army, he acquired the status and prerogatives of a regional ‘satrap’, answerable only to the Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf, by whom he was hand- picked, observers said. When, after his return from a visit to the USA, Sardar Anwar discovered that the Prime Minister had appointed government functionaries including an ombudsman, three members of the Public Service Commission and the Chairman using the offices of the acting President (the Legislative Assembly Speaker, Sardar Khalid), he accused him of encroaching on his powers. According to diplomatic observers, both men separately met Gen. Musharraf to explain their very public spat, following which they were “advised” to refrain from going public about their differences. Despite that, Sardar Anwar Khan recently transferred the PoK chief secretary, Mohammed Naeem, against the wishes of the Prime Minister, and appointed Shahid Rafi in his stead. More damaging, observers said, was his order to all departments instructing them to stop putting up files to Mr Sikandar Hayat Khan, resulting in a rift down the middle of the local bureaucracy. But more significant, observers said, was the nominated President’s attempts last month (when elections to the National Assembly had diverted attention from the region) to dismiss the Prime Minister by engineering a no-confidence motion against him in the PoK Assembly, and replacing him as Prime Minister with Sardar Atiq, son of Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, head of National Kashmir Committee. Mr Hayat is seen as less anti-Indian and more critical of Islamabad’s policies in PoK. Sardar Khan had praised the appointment of Mr Anwar Khan as president of the region as necessary to “uphold national interest.”

 

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