ISLAMABAD / MUZAFFARABAD: As official results of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) general elections on Monday confirmed the first landslide victory of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the region, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed gratitude to the voters with a pledge to bring the masses out of poverty, while the federal information minister said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s ‘humiliating defeat’ reflected the Kashmiri sentiment after the recent “Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with RAW agent Hamdullah Mohib”.
The PTI clinched 25 general seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly, followed by 11 by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), six by PML-N and one each by state-based AJK Muslim Conference (AJKMC) and Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP), according to the official results of July 25 polls.
The result of one constituency, LA-16, Bagh-III was, however, withheld as polling in its four stations could not be held due to rioting and other reasons, AJK Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Abdul Rashid Sulehria told a press conference. He said re-polling at the stations would most likely be held before July 29.
While no name has come forward from Imran’s party for the next prime minister of AJK so far, the second phase of elections to fill eight reserved seats is expected to complete before July 29 according to the AJK election commission member Farhat Ali Mir.
Yet to announce decision on region’s prime minister
In a couple of tweets after the official results were out, PM Khan congratulated all successful candidates and thanked the people of AJK for placing their trust in PTI through their votes, which resulted in PTI’s electoral victory. “I will focus on bringing the people out of poverty through their Ehsaas and Kamyab Pakistan programs; and establish accountability and transparency in government. As ambassador for Kashmir, I will continue to raise his voice on all international forums including the United Nations to ensure the international community fulfilled its commitment of self-determination to the Kashmiri people through a UN-sponsored plebiscite,” he vowed.
AJK CEC Sulehria said 1.99 million of the total 3.22m voters exercised their right to franchise on Sunday, pushing the turnout to 62 per cent. In all, he added, 17,993 of the polled votes were rejected.
He dismissed reports that results of some constituencies were delayed and said he had not received even a single written complaint from any party about rigging.
However, a large number of PPP activists staged a sit-in outside the office of returning officer in Hattian Bala district headquarters to protest alleged manipulation of election results in LA-32 in favour of Raja Farooq Haider, the outgoing AJK prime minister. Mr Haider had contested from two constituencies of Jhelum Valley district, of which he lost the LA-33 seat to PTI’s Deevan Ali Chughtai by a wide margin.
However, in LA-32, his home constituency, he could hardly secure success over PPP’s Sahibzada Ishfaq Zaffar by a margin of less than 300 votes in results declared late in the night. Mr Zaffar, while rejecting the results, claimed that his lead was turned into defeat with mala fide by the presiding officers ‘associated with the prime minister’. He said he had submitted an application for recounting of votes, but the returning officer showed reluctance.
According to official results, the PTI candidates who secured victory are: Azhar Sadiq (LA-1), Barrister Sultan Mahmood (LA-3), Chaudhry Arshad Hussain (LA-4), Ali Shan Soni (LA-6), Chaudhry Anwaarul Haq (LA-7), Zafar Iqbal Malik (LA-8), Chaudhry Akhlaque (LA-11) and Ansar Abdali (LA-13) in Mirpur division; Sardar Tanveer Ilyas (LA-15), Abdul Qayyum Niazi (LA-18), Shahida Saghir (LA-22), Sardar Mohammad Hussain (LA-23) and Faheem Akhtar Rabbani (LA-24) in Poonch division; Khawaja Farooq Ahmed (LA-29), Chaudhry Mohammad Rasheed (LA-30) and Deevan Ali Chughtai (LA-33) from Muzaffarabad division; Riaz Ahmed (LA-34), Chaudhry Maqbool Gujjar (LA-35), Hafiz Hamid Raza (LA-36), Mohammad Akmal Sargala (LA-37), Mohammad Akbar Chaudhry (LA-38), Ghulam Mohiuddin Deevan (LA-41), Mohammad Asim Sharif (LA-42), Javed Butt (LA-43) and Abdul Majid Khan (LA-45).
The 11 successful PPP candidates are: Chaudhry Qasim Majeed (LA-2), Javed Iqbal Budhanvi (LA-9) and Chaudhry Mohammad Yasin (from two constituencies of LA-10 and LA-12) in Mirpur division; Faisal Rathore (LA-17) and Sardar Yaqoob Khan (LA-20) in Poonch division; Mian Abdul Waheed (LA-26), Sardar Javaid Ayub (LA-27), Syed Bazil Ali Naqvi (LA-28) and Chaudhry Latif Akbar (LA-31) in Muzaffarabad division; and Aamir Abdul Ghaffar Lone (LA-40) in Pakistan.
The PML-N’s successful candidates are: Waqar Ahmed Noor (LA-5) in Mirpur division; Sardar Aamir Altaf (LA-19) in Poonch division; Shah Ghulam Qadir (LA-25) and Raja Farooq Haider (LA-32) in Muzaffarabad division; Raja Mohammad Siddique (LA-39) and Ahmed Raza Qadri (LA-44) in Pakistan.
Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan of the AJKMC and Sardar Hassan Ibrahim of the JKPP were elected from LA-14 and LA-21, respectively, in Poonch division.
Prominent among other contesting parties were the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, Jamaat-i-Islami, Liberation League, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, J&K United Movement, J&K Awami Ittehad, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Pak Sarzameen Party.
“The [recent] meeting of Nawaz Sharif with RAW agent [National Security Adviser of Afghanistan] Hamdullah Mohib was felt by the Kashmiris and it reflected in the election results,” said federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry while addressing a joint press conference with Ali Amin Gandapur in Islamabad.
He said it was surprising that the PML-N had not given any clarification about whether Nawaz Sharif met the Afghan NSA with his party’s permission.
Mr Chaudhry said PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz should quit their party positions in the wake of the ‘humiliating defeat’ in the AJK elections. He particularly congratulated Mr Gandapur on the PTI’s outright win and rubbished the allegations of rigging.
Mr Gandapur, in response to a question, said: “The AJK election commission had banned my entry in Kashmir despite the fact that my stance was not harsher than those of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz. [However,] we respect the election commission and will accept the decision whatever it is.”
The information minister disclosed that Prime Minister Khan would take a decision about the next AJK leadership — president, prime minister and speaker of the Legislative Assembly. He said PM Khan would address a session of the AJK Legislative Assembly on Aug 5.