Friday Jul 09, 2021
PATHIKA, MUZAFFARABAD: PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz on Friday criticised the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur for donating cash during the election campaign and asked his source of funding.
She was addressing a jalsa in Muzaffarabad as part of her party's election campaign. Her statement came in response to a viral video in which Gandapur could be seen handing over a thick bundle of cash to some supporters in AJK's LA-1 Mirpur 1 constituency, where he had gone to campaign this week.
"Where does the money come from? Is this foreign funding or has this money been obtained after selling off Kashmir?" the PML-N leader questioned.
She went on to say that the PML-N will save Azad Kashmir from the "selected government," adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan sold out Kashmir to India.
"Imran Khan has left Kashmir to the mercy of India, so no matter how much he tries to stage a drama, everyone knows that he was involved in the trade," she said. "I ask Imran Khan, who gave him the right to sell the blood of Kashmiris [to India]?"
Taking a jibe at the premier's past, Maryam asked how could a person who "played" his entire life know about a country's foreign policy?
"The bat he used for playing cricket is now being used to beat the masses," she said.
She also criticised PTI politicians for spending taxpayers' money to travel to AJK for the election campaign and said: "some people are only coming here to bribe people for their votes."
She then said that she doesn't necessarily have to travel to AJK because "Kashmir already runs in [her] blood.
"People come here for the election campaigns but Kashmir lives in my heart," she said.
She also promised the people of AJK that once coming into power, the PML-N will ensure ascertain that poverty is eradicated from the region and people do not have to stands in long queues to buy the basic necessities.
"We will never abandon the people of Kashmir," she said. "Those who try to steal your votes, just grab them by the neck and don't let them run away."
Earlier in the day, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Chief Election Commissioner, retired Justice Abdul Rashid Sulehria, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, requesting him to ensure that ministers observe the code of conduct set for the July 25 elections to the AJK Legislative Assembly.
The development came after Gandapur's video went viral on social media.
Some people had gathered around Gandapur to complain to him of a badly damaged road. They told him that they are looking to repair it with whatever meagre funds they can scrounge up on their own. At this, the minister immediately handed them a donation of Rs500,000, which was recorded on video.
Gandapur had also said that he is ready to provide further financial assistance and promised the people that the next time he visits the area, the road would have been repaired.
There were also reports of other ministers making promises of various schemes in other constituencies during their respective campaigns.
After this came to light, the chief election commissioner wrote to the prime minister, requesting him to issue directives in writing to the federal government ministers who are participating in the election, as well as to the provincial government, to ensure that no individual violates the code of conduct specified by the AJK government.
"It is important to mention that violation of any provision of Code of Conduct by any person during the election campaign of a candidate may end up [in] disqualification of the candidate concerned," the letter stated.
Sulehria also wrote a separate letter to the premier to apprise him of the code of conduct itself.
"Let me take this opportunity to appraise your good self that AJK Election Commission has promulgated a Code of Conduct 2021 for strict observance by all political parties, candidates and polling staff who are deputed for the administration of election process in order to ensure that elections are conducted fairly, justly and in the most transparent manner in all respects without causing any intimidation or coercion upon the free exercise of the right of franchise by the electors," the letter begins by saying.
The letter goes on to state that the code "strongly prohibits any kind of pronouncement in terms of financial or development package or any kind of attraction by political parties, contesting candidates and their sympathisers to secure favour from electors for any contesting candidate except their party manifesto".
Sulehria said that the request is made "to ensure that the AJK General Elections [...] be conducted in a transparent and independent manner without causing any blame for the misuse of state resources by holders of public office".