MUZAFFARABAD: Pakistan’s ruling party of Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared to be winning in a tight race to elect the regional assembly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, called Azad Kashmir, where two poll workers from Khan’s party were killed on Sunday.
Khan’s party is leading with 25 seats out of a total 45, said Raja Azhar Iqbal, a focal person for local election commission. But Khan’s top adviser Shahbaz Gill declared victory in a tweet saying his party has won 26 seats.
Unofficial estimates of the results started coming in late Sunday, Iqbal said, adding that the election commission will make a formal announcement on Monday.
Supporters of Khan’s ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party and opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) clashed in one constituency, leading to the two deaths, police officer Mohammad Shabir told Reuters by phone. He said the deceased belonged to the ruling party.
Four soldiers in a rapid response team involved in securing the poll also died when their vehicle plunged into a ravine in the mountainous area, the army said.
Who will be premier?
According to media reports, Sardar Tanveer Ilyas and Barrister Sultan Mahmood of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) are in the run for the office of prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
PTI has won in 25 constituencies, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 10 constituencies and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in six constituencies.
Mr Tanveer, who is a newcomer to the AJK politics, is said to be the “strongest” candidate for the top slot.
Sources in the PTI said that former prime minister of AJK Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry has expressed displeasure on the possibility of not being given the position.
When contacted, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn on Sunday that both the candidates were being considered for the office of AJK prime minister but “the final decision will be taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan”.
He confirmed that both Sardar Tanveer and Barrister Sultan Mehmood were being considered for the office of AJK’s prime minister.
Asked if Mr Mahmood was unhappy over not honouring the promise made to him and considering Sardar Tanveer as the “most favourite” candidate for the top office, Mr Chaudhry said the decision was yet to be taken.
Sardar Tanveer is at present serving as special assistant to the Punjab chief minister on investment.
The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has accused him of giving “heavy” funds to the ruling PTI. However, Mr Tanveer has denied the allegation.
Talking to a private TV channel on Sunday, Mr Tanveer said the final decision would be taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He, however, said that if he was given the slot of AJK premier he will meet expectations of PM Khan.
According to the Election Commission, 5129 polling stations were established for 3.2 million registered voters out of which 826 have been declared most sensitive and 1209 as sensitive deploying additional forces.
According to data, 701 candidates contested for 45 general seats including 12 refugee seats in Pakistan. A tough contest were contested between three main political parties Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) while on 7 seats regional parties Muslim Conference (MC) and Jammu Kashmir peoples party (JK-PP)s candidates are in a tough contest against candidates of major political parties, on 6 MC and on one JKPP.
A total of 32,50,117 registered voters including 146,8317 female in all 33 electoral constituencies in all ten districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir will cast their votes.
Moreover, all 12 constituencies meant for Pakistan-based Jammu & Kashmir refugees, would exercise their right of vote to elect the Azad Jammu Kashmir Legislative Assembly, for next five years constitutional term.
The registered voters shall have to produce original computerized national identity card at the polling station at the time of exercising the right to vote.
A total of 587 candidates are contesting the elections in 33 constituencies of Azad Kashmir districts and 121 candidates on 12 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir refugees settled in Pakistan.
Over 40 thousand security personals including PAK Army, FC, Rangers and Police are performing duties to ensure peaceful polling.
Two people were killed and several others injured during violent clashes reported in different locations of Kotli, Haveeli, Bagh and Hattian Balla districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) the during polling.
Police said the workers of political parties clashed outside the polling stations and used firearms during the fight. “An exchange of fire occurred between Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) workers at Methi Dhara Prai polling station of LA 10 Kotli III (Chiroi) leaving two PTI workers dead,” SP Kotli Raja Akmal said.
In a quick response to the incident, the Pakistan Army reached the polling station and restored peace and resumed polling after an hour break, the election commission said.
In another incident in LA 17 (Haveeli), one person sustained bullet injury during a clash between PPP and PTI workers, local police said adding later polling was resumed. In Bagh district, a clash between PTI and PPP workers occurred at Hari Gail polling station left 6 people injured but later the situation was normalised by the security forces, an election commission official said.
Similarly, two incidents of clashes between PML-N and Jamat-e-Islami occurred at two polling stations in the constituency of Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan in Hattia Bala district, SP Riaz Mughal said.
In the first incident at Sara Chattiyan polling station 4 people got injured while at Jaskool polling station near Chinar clash left 3 people injured but polling was resumed after a short interval, Mughal added.
In a separate incident, five police Constables were injured after Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) activists attacked them with batons at the Dhal Chakhya polling station in AJK’s LA-32 constituency, Jhelum valley district SP Riaz Mughal said.
PPP files complaints
Pakistan People Party (PPP) has filed a written complaint with Azad Kashmir Election Commission and asked it to take strict action as per the law against those involved in the irregularities.
PPP has alleged that its camp situated 400 meters from polling station 20 of LA 44 was uprooted by PTI workers with the help of police while PTI camp is situated only 200 meters from polling station.
PPP further alleged that Police on duty at polling station 3 of LA 44 is telling voters where to vote and where not to vote.