ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday named loyalist Raja Farooq Haider to lead the new government in Azad Jammu Kashmir, less than a week after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz routed its rivals in the state polls on July 21.

Haider’s name was picked for the Prime Minister’s slot at a meeting of the PML-N AJK chapter here chaired by PM Sharif. He was preferred by the party leadership over several other candidates including Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, Mushtaq Minhas Chaudhry Aziz, Chaudhry Yasin Gulshan, Shah Ghulam Qadir and Farooq Sikander. These lawmakers will now be accommodated in the AJK cabinet after the formation of the government next month, PML-N sources said.

Since the office of the AJK President will also become vacant in the next few weeks, there are chances someone from among these leaders could be given the slot, a senior PML-N leader told The Nation.

“PM Nawaz Sharif is against grouping in the party so every reasonable candidate will be given some responsibility. After all everybody cannot be made the PM or the President,” he added.

The PML-N leader, who attended the meeting, said there were no resenting voices against the nomination of the new AJK premier.

An official statement said PM Sharif approved Haider’s name and also congratulated the newly elected members of AJK assembly and the would-be AJK Prime Minister.

The PML-N had emerged as the single largest party in the July 21 AJK polls with more than 30 seats. The Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf were far behind with three and two seats. The Muslim Conference also won three seats.

Speaking to journalists, Raja Farooq Haider said that he will come up to the expectations of the party leadership. The would-be AJK PM said his agenda will be merit, good governance and zero tolerance for corruption.

The Prime Minister-designate said the corrupt will be held accountable. He said the days were not far off when Jammu and Kashmir will be liberated from the India.

He said the AJK government will live up to the expectations of the Kashmiri people and address their basic problems.

Haider had held the AJK post earlier in 2009.  He belongs to well known political family. His father the late Raja Mohammed Haider Khan led the Muslim Conference being the President of Muslim Conference twice in 1960 and 1963. His mother the late Saeeda Khan holds the honour to be the first female Member of AJK Legislative Assembly.

His uncle Raja Mohammed Latif Khan was elected as a Member of AJK Legislative Assembly in 1970. His sister Naureen Haider also remained a Member of AJK Legislative Assembly from 1991 to 1996.

In 1985, he was elected as a Member of AJK Legislative Assembly and held the portfolio of Senior Minister as well as Education Minister.  In 1991, he was again elected as a Member of AJK Legislative Assembly and served as a Minister. From 2001 to 2003, He remained Chairman Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission. From 2003 to 2006, he remained Special Assistant to Prime Minister of AJK.

In 2006, he was again elected as a Member of AJK Legislative Assembly and held the portfolio of Chairman Public Accounts Committee.

As the PML-N seems set to form the new government in AJK, the PPP has accused the rulers of ‘massive rigging’ in the AJK polls to ensure the PML-N’s victory.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the PML-N had used all the government machinery to sweep the state polls.

He alleged Sharif wanted to ‘conquer’ Kashmir like his ‘friend’ Narendra Modi – the Indian Prime Minister – who had occupied the other part of the state. The PTI is also preparing to launch an anti-government movement next month.