ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is in a fix despite a landslide victory in Azad Kashmir elections as party’s President Raja Farooq Haider and Secretary General Shah Ghulam Qadir have emerged as strong candidates for AJK premiership, The Nation has learnt reliably.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has convened the meeting of parliamentary committee of PML-N AJK chapter in Islamabad today to discuss various issues, including names of next AJK premier and president and cabinet members. The PM had also visited Muzaffarabad a day after AJK polls and thanked voters for showing confidence in PML-N at a big political gathering.

Sources said that Raja Farooq Haider is on top of the list among candidates for the slot of AJK prime minister. They said that Farooq played a vital role in the formation of PML-N AJK after leaving Muslim Conference in 2011 and PML-N leadership also admired his services for party. PML-N also secured 11 seats in 2011 AJK elections under the supervision of Raja Farooq. It was the first PML-N election in AJK after its formation. 

President PML-N AJK chapter Raja Farooq belongs to one of the influential political families of AJK and his father Raja Haider Khan was a famous political leader and his mother was also elected a woman member of first AJK Assembly.

Farooq Haiedr has an active political career and is famous among Raja belt of AJK. He was elected PM AJK in 2009 for 10 months after a move of no-confidence against Sardar Attique. Farooq took bold decisions during his 10-month tenure and removed former AJK chief justice Chaudhry Riaz on corruption allegations.

On the other hand, Shah Gulam Qadir, Secretary General PML-N AJK chapter has good links with establishment and was elected as member AJK Legislative Assembly on settlers seat Valley-4 Rawalpindi on Muslim Conference ticket in 2006.

He had served as speaker AJK Assembly and was the part of no-confidence move against Sardar Attique. Shah was also strongest candidate to replace Sardar Attique at that time but the other 29 MLAs of Muslim Conference denied electing a settler as PM. After the disappointing attitude of MLAs, he shifted to Neelum Valley and registered his vote over there and contested election from valley in 2011 and lost the election.

Qadir came back in latest elections and secured record 40,000 votes and defeated PPP candidate with a big margin. Sources said that another young PML-N leader and close aide of PM Mushtaq Minhas will also be in the race of AJK premiership. Minhas has strong relations with PML-N top leadership and had played an active role in formation of AJK PML-N chapter.

Minhas was also one of the prominent faces during Nawaz Sharif visit of AJK in last three years and PM always gave importance to Minhas’ suggestions regarding AJK political affairs. The PM might give him the portfolio of Ministry of Communication for fulfilling his promise of new development projects for Kashmiris which he made during election campaign, they added.

PML-N sources also said that PM Sharif would also discuss strategy with Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Asif Karmani and Bargees Tahir regarding the appointment of new prime minister and president of AJK.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharif is expected to finalise the PML-N’s choice for the Azad Jammu and Kashmir premiership today (Wednesday) when he chairs a meeting here, officials said.

Officials said the PM will discuss issues of the AJK with the party leaders as the head of the PML-N.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Political Affairs Dr Asif Kirmani said Sharif had summoned the meeting as President of the PML-N.

Separately, AJK PML-N President Raja Farooq Haider Khan denied reports that he had been selected for the AJK PM-ship.

In a statement, he said it was the sole authority of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to nominate the candidate for AJK premiership.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharif strongly condemned the terrorist attack on military personnel in Karachi.

The prime minister directed Ministry of Interior and government of Sindh to hunt down these cowards.

“We will not allow these terrorists to derail the ongoing operation for restoration of peace in Karachi,” he said in a statement.