- Masood Khan may join ceremony at President House in Islamabad
The prime minister of Azad Jammu Kashmiri (AJK) and the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan will not attend a high-profile ceremony at Islamabad’s President House where Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan will take oath of his office, senior government and political officials confirmed.
On Friday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman was elected as the Leader of the House in the National Assembly as announced by Speaker Assad Qaiser after completion of counting. In the 342-seat House, Imran Khan bagged 176 votes while Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif secured 96 votes.
Senior officials of the PM House in Muzaffarabad confirmed that Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan who is in the federal capital may not attend the oath-taking ceremony at the presidency due to some other ‘important’ engagements. An official at the Kashmir House in Islamabad said that Prime Minister Haider was already scheduled to attend a Kashmir-related event in the capital.
A senior official confirmed that the PM House of Muzaffarabad has already received an invitation letter from the President House to attend the oath-taking ceremony in Islamabad, as per the official protocol. The official was unable to confirm that the Kashmiri prime minister would attend the event at the presidency or not.
A senior PML-N leader said that Prime Minister Haider would avoid facing the new Pakistani prime minister due to political differences with him. As per the past traditions, the Kashmiri president and the prime minister must attend the oath-taking ceremonies and other special events, held at the President House or the PM House in Islamabad.
AJK President Masood Khan has also received an invitation letter to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as the new prime minister at the President House, the presidency confirmed. Upon contact, official sources said that the Kashmiri president will likely to join the oath-taking event, as per the past traditions.
On the other hand, Gilgit Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman who also received the invitation to attend the ceremony at the presidency will also avoid the event, for what the officials say, ‘political’ reasons. To avoid the event in Islamabad, the chief minister has made his schedule to visit different areas in Gilgit, according to sources at the CM Secretariat.
The regional government, led by the PML-N, has presented excuses of prevailing law and order situation for not attending the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan. Hafeezur Rehman has been very critical of Imran Khan and his party. Recently, the chief minister had protested with the caretaker prime minister for, what Hafeez says, disrespecting the three-time prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif by shifting him in an armoured vehicle.
Upon contact, a senior official confirmed that Prime Minister Farooq Haider congratulated Imran Khan through an official communication on his election as the prime minister of Pakistan. He also sent felicitation letters to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto for their success in the general elections, a PM House official said.
Ghulam Abbas also contributed to this report.