Jammu, Apr 29: The much awaited reshuffle in the council of ministry headed by CM Mehbooba Mufti is finally taking place on Monday at Jammu Convention Centre.
A highly-placed source in BJP said that the reshuffle will see some major changes made in the list of the party ministers, who are part of the Cabinet in this PDP-BJP coalition government.
The source said that the state is likely to get a new Deputy Chief Minister as the current Speaker Kavinder Gupta is expected to change seats with Nirmal Singh.
“Kavinder has been on the list of people expected. Recently, he has been prominently taking part in touring several developmental works in various Jammu parts,” the source added.
The swearing-in of new Ministers by the Governor is scheduled to be held at noon at the Convention Centre instead of Raj Bhavan as all government offices in Jammu have shut down on Saturday ahead of a six-month sojourn in summer capital Srinagar.
Among other likely changes in the cabinet, the source said, could be dropping of Minister for Health & Medical Education, Bali Bhagat and Minister of State for Education, Technical Education, Tourism and Culture, Priya Sethi.
Also to be likely inducted in the State Cabinet, as per the source, is BJP state president Sat Sharma.
“He has been lobbying for induction into the state cabinet for a while,” the source added.
BJP’s junior Minister Sunil Sharma too is likely to be elevated to Cabinet rank.
The final list, the source continued, has been prepared after detailed consultation with BJP national president Amit Shah and party general secretary, Ram Madhav.
To mention, the two vacancies in the BJP quota had arisen due to resignations of Forest Minister Choudhary Lal Singh and Industry and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga early this month after they were massively criticised for taking part in a pro-accused rally in the backdrop of rape and murder of an eight year old Bakerwal girl from Kathua.
Peoples Democratic Party sources said that no new faces from the party will be inducted in the Council of Ministers. One ministerial berth that fell vacant after the dropping of then Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu from the Council of Ministers will not be filled by the ruling party now.
The source, however, did not rule out minor reallocation of portfolios among the PDP Ministers.
The other names doing the rounds for ministerial berths include Sukhnandan Choudhary, Shakti Parihar, Rajesh Jasrota, and Ravinder Raina.
Presently, there were 22 Ministers in the State including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as against maximum prescribed strength of 25. Of three vacancies, two belonged to BJP and one to PDP. The PDP vacancy had arisen due to unceremonious removal of Dr Haseeb Drabu, the then Finance Minister, due to his remarks on Kashmir situation.
As per the PDP-BJP agreement, PDP can have 14 Ministers and BJP 11. Presently PDP has 13 and BJP eight. Social Welfare Minister Sajjad Ghani Lone belonged to the People’s Conference, a BJP ally.
In connection to the reshuffle, Chief Secretary, B.B Vyas Sunday chaired a meeting at Convention Centre to finalize the arrangements for the oath taking ceremony.
The meeting discussed the arrangements related to seating capacity, security, traffic regulation, Public Address System, sanitation, decoration, power supply and drinking water supply.
The Chief Secretary directed the security agencies to ensure fool proof security arrangements in and around the venue. He further asked for identifying sufficient space for the parking of vehicles to avoid traffic jam.
Big fish in anti-corruption net soon: Guv Malik
‘Wish I’d power to confiscate properties of corrupt’
Srinagar, Jul 21: Reiterating his tough stance against corruption in the state, Governor Satya Pal Malik Sunday said that in the next few months, he was expecting to corner and catch at least “two big fish” who had engaged in high-profile corruption during their time in power.
“These big families have built their bungalows in Dubai, Delhi and London. Retired forest officers have their houses in posh locality of Vasant Kunj in New Delhi. Soon, you will see that at least two big fish (high profile corrupt people) will be caught in the coming two months. They have looted the wealth of Kashmir for decades,” Malik said.
The Governor was addressing people during the inauguration ceremony of Kargil Ladakh Tourism Festival 2019 at Khree Sultan Choo Sports Stadium in Kargil on Sunday.
If he had the power, the Governor said, he wished to confiscate the property of such corrupt people who had built several properties at the cost of Kashmiri people.
“I wish I had the power to confiscate their (corrupt people) properties by taking them to the court. Corruption is turning out to be the biggest problem in Jammu and Kashmir. These people build properties while we see common people living in poverty in Ladakh and even in Srinagar’s downtown,” Malik said.
He said that corruption was taking the shape of a ‘dreadful disease’ in the state, which required to be “uprooted”.
Malik said that there should be a constant public pressure on corruption and corrupt people.
Inaugurates Kargil Ladakh tourism festival
Governor Satya Pal Malik inaugurated Kargil Ladakh Tourism Festival-2019 at Khree Sultan Cho Sports Stadium Kargil here today.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor observed that the twin districts of Kargil and Leh of Ladakh Division have huge tourism potential and emphasized on organizing more events like the Tourism Festival to promote the diverse tourism opportunities available in the region.
Governor said that the expansion work of Kargil Airport for which Rs 200 crores have already been sanctioned will be taken up soon.
This will not only provide round the year connectivity but also give a new dimension to the tourism sector in the region, he added.
Governor said that the State Administration is committed for the holistic development of Ladakh division and concrete measures are underway to pursue this goal. Government is taking strict measures to bring transparency in the system and removing various bottlenecks in the path of progress and development, he added.
Governor, on the occasion, announced the establishment of two degree colleges for Kargil district including a Women’s Degree College. He said that a 2500 MW solar power project will be starting soon to augment power sector in Kargil.
Governor also inspected and appreciated the various stalls of local handicrafts, handloom, agricultural and horticulture products, ethnic food and ancient artifacts which had been put up by various Government departments and social groups.
Feroz Ahmad Khan, Chairman and Chief Executive Councillor LAHDC, Kargil expressed his gratitude to the Governor on behalf of the people of Kargil district for having fulfilled the long pending demands of the people by granting divisional status to Ladakh, creation of 495 posts for Ladakh Division and allotment of equal number of directorates to both districts, sanctioning of Rs 200 crores for expansion of Kargil Airport and Rs 280 crores for completion of languishing projects.
The CEC also projected several demands and sought the intervention of the Governor for their early redressal including establishment of women’s police station and IRP Battalion in the district, early start of work on Zojila Tunnel and release of the pending dues of casual labourers.
Various multicultural music and dance performances were presented by the artists of the Purgi, Balti and Shina Dardi ethnic tribes and a polo exhibition match was also organized to mark the occasion.
Baseer ul Haq Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner and CEO, LAHDC, Kargil gave the vote of thanks and expressed his gratitude to Governor for gracing the occasion with his presence.
Haji Anayat Ali, Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council, Feroz Ahmad Khan, Chairman and Chief Executive Councillor LAHDC, Kargil, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Member Parliament, Er Phunsog Tashi, Syed Mujtaba, Syed Abbass Razvi, Muhammad Ali Chandan- Executive Councillors, Maj. Gen Sanjeev Dogra, GOC 8 Mountain Division, Prasanna Ramaswamy G, Additional Secretary, Tourism , Baseer ul Haq Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner and CEO, LAHDC, Kargil, Dr Vinod Kumar, Superintendent of Police Kargil, Nissar Ahmed Wani, Director Tourism Kashmir, Councillors of LAHDC Kargil were present among other dignitaries on the occasion.
Guv to militants: Why target innocent, why not corrupt?
Srinagar, Jul 21: Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik Sunday said that the militants, if they have to, should kill the corrupt people who have looted Kashmir instead of the innocent.
Inaugurating the Kargil Ladakh tourism festival 2019 at Khree Sultan Choo stadium in Kargil, he said: “Why are you (militants) killing innocents including SPOs and PSOs. What will you gain by this?
“If you have to kill, why don’t you kill the corrupt who have looted the country and Kashmir for so long.”
Malik said that the militants do not have the power to erode the authority of the Indian government. “Yours is a futile struggle. You are losing your lives for nothing. Guns haven’t fetched you anything, particularly in India where government doesn’t bow before guns. You should know that there was one terrorist organisation LTTE but they all got killed. One doesn’t fight with governments in this manner,” Malik said.
He said that “only 250 militants were left in the valley now.”
“100 are from Pakistan and the rest are locals who are inexperienced with no weapon,” he said.
“The local militants are being killed within two hours of operation in the state. Foreigners take two days to die,” he said.
Launching an attack on politicians of Kashmir, Governor said they have always had two different stands, one in Delhi and another in Kashmir.
“Yeh dilli main hote hain to humko darate hain aur fir yahan bachun ko bhadkate hain (when in New Delhi they threaten us and later mislead and instigate the boys here). We told them to speak only one language. I am assuring you that these politicians won’t give you autonomy,” he said.
Malik said “the religious leader were equally misleading youth of Kashmir.
“Maulvis were promising them (militants) heaven after death. I cannot question your religious belief. But, I can give you two heavens instead of the one promised to you by your ”maulvis”. I can give you Kashmir, which is a heaven on earth, and if you live like good human beings, you will get another heaven after your death.”
He expressed satisfaction over the change in the ground situation in Kashmir, saying that the people are now talking of peace.
“It is for the first time in 30 years that there was no strike on the visit of the country’s Home Minister to Kashmir,” Malik said referring to the recent visit of Amit Shah to the Valley.
He also spoke of the administration’s attempts to bring back the Kashmiri Pandits saying that the effort has been welcomed by Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Imran Khan in US, to meet Trump today
Washington, Jul 21: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived here Saturday afternoon on a three-day official trip to the US.
Khan, 66, is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday, July 22 during which the American leadership will press him to take “decisive and irreversible” actions against “terrorist” and militant groups operating from Pakistan and facilitate peace talks with the Taliban.
The cricketer-turned-politician arrived here abroad a commercial Qatar Airways flight and is staying at the official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan.
He was welcomed at the airport by his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. A large number of Pakistani Americans also welcomed him.
Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani prime minister to visit the US on an official working trip in October 2015. During his stay in Washington DC, Khan, in addition to his meeting with Trump, is also scheduled to meet IMF acting chief David Lipton and World Bank President David Malpass.
He is scheduled to address a gathering of thousands of Pakistani Americans at capitol One Arena in downtown Washington DC on Sunday, July 21, and speak at the US Institute of Peace think-tank on July 23.
The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will call on him on Tuesday. Trump, in addition to a one-on-meeting in the Oval Office will host the visiting delegation over a working lunch at the White House on Monday.
He is also scheduled to meet lawmakers at the US Capitol Hill. Before becoming the prime minister, Khan used to visit the US regularly and has a sizeable support base among the Pakistani diaspora.
This is after several decades that a visiting Pakistani leader has been welcomed by members of the Pakistani diaspora in such a large number.
Meanwhile, hours before his arrival Pakistan hired the services of lobbying firm Holland & Knight.
The memorandum of understanding on this was signed between former Republican Congressman Tom Reynolds and Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Majeed Khan.
Reynolds will lead a team comprising other former members of Congress, former senior Administration officials, Capitol Hill veterans and other professional experts to lobby in the US on behalf of the Government of Pakistan.
The Embassy had no lobbyist during the past six years. Khan’s visit to the US is also marked by protests by several ethnic and religious minorities of Pakistan, including Baloch, Sindhis and Mohajirs.
The Baloch groups Saturday started a mobile billboard campaign in America’s national capital urging President Donald Trump to help end “enforced disappearances in Pakistan.
A bipartisan group of 10 influential American lawmakers Saturday asked US President Donald Trump to raise the issue of human rights abuses in the Sindh province in his meeting with the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister.
Protests have been planned in front of the White House and Capitol Hill Arena by these groups over the next few days.
Saved his country money: Omar backs Khan
Srinagar, Jul 21: As Twitterati took a dig at Imran Khan, who was reportedly not received by any official upon his arrival in the United States, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Sunday threw his weight behind the Prime Minister, saying he saved Pakistan’s money.
Quoting a tweet by Pakistan-based journalist Fawad Rehman, who posted the video of Khan’s arrival, Abdullah said that the reported absence of a state protocol to Khan “reflects badly” on the Donald Trump administration.
“He saved his country money it didn’t need to spend AND didn’t wear his ego on his sleeve like most “leaders” do. Remind me again why that’s a bad thing. This reflects badly on the American establishment rather than on @ImranKhanPTI IMO,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister tweeted.
Khan is currently on a three-day visit to the US. The cricketer-turned-politician, who took a commercial flight instead of a private jet to cut down on expenses, was instead received by his Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and others at the Dulles International Airport.
A video shared by PTI showed Khan deboarding the commercial flight and later being received by Qureshi and Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Asad M Khan. He also took the people mover for leaving the airport.
As Khan did not receive his due welcome, netizens used this opportunity to have a good laugh. “Pakistan didn’t do very well in the World Cup, but this seems a harsh punishment,” a Twitterer said.
In a bid to cut costs with a struggling economy back home, Khan had earlier expressed his wish to stay at the ambassador’s residence during his visit to the US capital.
Pakistani daily, The Dawn, had reported the news while adding that the US Secret Service, which is responsible for the security of all visiting dignitaries, is not “very receptive” towards the idea as it could pose security risks and cause inconvenience to the people. Local authorities, who are responsible for the smooth flow of Washington DC traffic during a foreign dignitary’s visit, have not expressed their keenness either.
Khan is expected to discuss Afghanistan and peace in the South Asian region during his upcoming meeting with Trump on July 22.