Tuesday September 28, 2021

UK taxi base owner wins Azad Kashmir election on PTI ticket

LONDON: A British Kashmiri man from Ayselbury has become a member of Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Legislative Assembly (AJK-LA) on a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) ticket after defeating his rival who held the seat for over two decades.

Chaudary Muhammad Ikhlaq joined the PTI around six years ago and gained a ticket for LA-11, Kotli 4, Sehnsa, District Kotli. His rival was Raja Naseer from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who received 24,288 votes against Chaudary Ikhlaq’s 25,201 votes.

Speaking to The News, Ikhlaq said he was “thankful to the voters of LA-11, Sehnsa Sertawa Panjera, for placing their trust in me and PTI”. Ikhlaq, 58, joined the PTI when Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhary entered the party with his group around six years ago. Prior to that, he was an active campaigner for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Kashmir chapter.

Ikhlaq said he was able to get a PTI ticket due to support from Barrister Sultan and Ali Amin Gandapur, the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs. He said: “The PTI has emerged as the largest political party in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. Voters have given us a mandate for change. They were fed up with the existing system and they have spoken out loudly. I am proud to be a team member of Prime Minister Imran Khan. I will be devoting my time to help resolve the issues of overseas Pakistanis as well as the local constituents who voted me in.” Ikhlaq came to the UK over 50 years ago with his parents who migrated from Sehnsa Kotli and settled first in Birmingham and then in Aylesbury. He worked menial jobs and then set up his own taxi base locally, to provide pick and drop services. He also owns a grocery store in Luton and a grilled chicken takeaway business in Watford.

Veteran PTI campaigner Chaudhary Shabaan, from Watford, who campaigned for Ikhlaq, said voters in Azad Kashmir want development and that is the reason they voted for Ikhlaq and other PTI candidates. He said that dozens of people from Britain joined the campaign in Kashmir even though Covid restrictions prevented many from joining the campaign.