Imran Khan starts following in Nawaz Sharif’s footsteps?

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 02:33 PM, 5 Aug, 2021
Imran Khan starts following in Nawaz Sharif’s footsteps?
File photo.

Mian Nawaz Sharif, an industrialist-turned-politician, who served the country thrice as prime minister – and before that twice as Punjab chief minister – always gave priority to Butts, Khawajas, Dars and Mirs while making appointments against important positions. The reason: he himself was a Butt and wanted his stint be remembered as Kashmiris’ rule.  

His ‘fatal’ blunder during his second term as premier that led to the overthrow of his government was the appointment of Gen Ziaudin Butt as chief of army staff after the removal of Gen Pervez Musharraf. (This step taken on October 12, 1999 had changed the course of country’s history. Had the army given in at the time, nobody would have been in a position to challenge the Sharifs for a long time to come)  

Although people from other ‘biradaris’ were also accommodated, he trusted more those linked to the abovementioned four tags. 

Now it appears that Prime Minister Imran Khan has also started following in the footsteps of his archrival.  

The latest sign of this ‘contagion’ was witnessed when he picked Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi as the 13th prime minister of AJK. This man worked with the Muslim Conference for long before switching to the PTI in 2018.

It is said that he belongs to the Dulli sub-caste of Mughals and Niazi is not his surname but pseudonym. People say he chose this title in the early 1990s when he was a member of the district council. 

At the time, MC leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan was the AJK premier.  

Interestingly enough, being the namesake, it would often create confusion between their statements and official orders. The Poonch administration would sometimes implement the district council member’s orders mistaking them for the directives coming from the prime minister. 

In order to avoid this confusion, then PM Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan advised Mr Qayyum to attach a different title to his name, and thus he started using Niazi as his last name. 

At an election rally in Bagh on July 17, when Prime Minister Imran Khan was reading a list of PTI’s nominated candidates from Poonch division, he had expressed surprise at Mr Niazi’s name, saying: “How did a Niazi get here? I am quite surprised. Though we Niazis have spread everywhere.” 

Prime Minister Imran Khan personally interviewed five candidates for the post of AJK premier.  They were Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, Barrister Sultan Mehmood, Khawaja Farooq, Azhar Sadiq and Abdul Qayyum Niazi.

(Mr Niazi was not earlier in the run for the PM slot, but his name emerged suddenly, taking everybody by surprise). 

Premier Imran ultimately picked Abdul Qayyum Niazi for the post, although it was generally believed that Tanveer Ilyas stands more chances because of his richness – and ability to serve what is tauntingly called ATM. 

The election for the AJK premier was held on Wednesday (Aug 4), in which Mr Niazi bagged 33 votes against 15 pocketed by Chaudhry Lateef Akbar, a joint candidate of the PPP and the PML-N.  

Because of the sensitivity of the Kashmir cause, there was a need for an experienced person who could effectively highlight the matter at the international level and hold talks with the world leaders. 

Barrister Sultan Mehmood, who had also served as prime minister before, could perform this role better than anybody else. However, for reasons best known to PM Imran, he has not been chosen. 

Apparently, the logic that worked at the time of selection of Usman Buzdar as the Punjab chief minister has been applied to choose Mr Niazi as the new AJK premier. 

It is said that the first lady – a spiritual personality- had convinced her spouse that both Imran and Usman began with the same Urdu alphabet (Ain) and would have better coordination. 

Most people in the PTI don’t like to see Usman Buzdar as the chief executive of the country’s most populous province. They are not satisfied with his performance – on which depends the PTI’s future at the time of next elections.  

But Imran Khan appears in mood to change the Punjab chief minister – come what may. 

In the world of materialism when, because of their interests linked to India, even the Islamic countries are not doing much for the rights of the Kashmiris, new AJK prime minister’s competence will be tested by his performance on what is regarded as the jugular vein of Pakistan. Winning the hearts of non-Muslim countries will be even a more challenging task.