Sikandar, Qayyum ready for patch-up
17 March 2004
Our Staff Correspondent
MUZAFFARABAD: AJK Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat on Wednesday held a meeting with Muslim Conference leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan in a bid to defuse the three-week old crisis affecting the ruling party. The two- hour-long meeting was held at Sardar Qayyum's residence in Ghaziabad village where the prime minister flew from Islamabad by a helicopter. Prime minister's adviser on political affairs Raja Farooq Haider also attended the meeting. Later, both leaders came out together but Sardar Qayyum declined to respond to the queries by local reporters. After the meeting, Mr Haider said there was a unanimity of views on various issues between the prime minister and the party's leader (Sardar Qayyum). The prime minister told journalists that they had discussed the ongoing crisis, discussing measures to amicably resolve it. 'I will not harm Muslim Conference ... I will try till to end (the crisis so) that it remains united, continuing its government tenure,' he said. Criticizing the rebel ministers, he said if they had resigned they should have surrendered official vehicles and other facilities, adding they still had them in their possession. Talking to this correspondent by telephone, Sardar Qayyum said the premier had come to offer condolences over the death of his wife, but the main topic of discussion was the current situation. 'We have agreed to resolve all issues amicably and with mutual understanding,' he said, adding that the PM had asked him to ascertain the dissidents' complaints so that the same could be redressed. However, the prime minister's removal, which had been the main demand of the dissidents, was not discussed during the meeting 'as it can create bitterness and make the atmosphere tense,' Sardar Qayyum said. He said he had summoned the dissidents to Ghaziabad on Thursday to learn about their grievances. A meeting of rebel ministers with the prime minister was also likely to be held shortly, he added. However, a final decision would be taken after the return of Muslim Conference president Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan from the UK on Friday.