ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party has expressed reservations over the role of Chief Secretary Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Raja Sultan Sikandar for his alleged linkage with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). However, the secretary rejected the allegations, saying arrangements have been made for free and fair elections on July 21 in AJK.

The incumbent government had appointed Sultan Sikandar as Chief Secretary AJK in January last without the consent of AJK government. AJK Prime Minister Chaudhary Majeed had moved a three-name summary for appointment of new AJK Chief Secretary, which comprised M Jamil, Alam Din Bullo and Akbar Hussain Durrani but PM Sharif ignored the recommendations and appointed Sultan Sikandar as new incharge of AJK’s administrative machinery.

The appointment of Sikandar triggered a new controversy between Muzaffarabad and Islamabad because Sultan Sikandar is son-in-law of Seed Mehdi, a former principal secretary of Nawaz Sharif.

Talking to The Nation, PPP senior leader Senator Saeed Ghani said that PML-N was utilising the official resources for its election campaign and there was no doubt that the AJK machinery was also facilitating the members of federal cabinet. How free and fair election would be conducted under the nose of federal government’s blue eyed officer, he questioned.

Ghani criticised the role of Election Commission of AJK and said it served notice on President of AJK and Speaker of Legislative Assembly over attending political rallies of their relatives who are contesting elections on the tickets of PPP but it did not take notice of Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Advisor to PM Asif Karmani who are running the PML-N election campaign from last six months illegally, he added.

The PPP leader said he will take the issue of state-run TV channel’s biased coverage of AJK polls in the Senate Standing Committee.

Talking to The Nation, Raja Sultan Sikandar denied the allegations and said that for the first time the AJK election would be conducted in the army’s supervision. He said that instructions had been issued to all government servants to play their neutral role for free and fair election.

“We are ready to take action under the law against any party, which violates the election code of conduct,” Sikandar said. He said all departments including Election Commission and police are on same page and taking every step to conduct free and fair election.

Sikandar said the purpose behind deployment of 37,000 troops of army and police is that all political parties participate in the election with full satisfaction. He said the AJK government had taken the action against eight government servants after recovering the copies of ballot papers from their possession. The chief secretary AJK mentioned that the upgrading and computerisation of voter’s lists was not easy task but the administration did it timely.