Who should win AJK elections and why?
The campaign for the 55-member AJK Legislative Assembly elections, scheduled for July 25, has picked up momentum after the participation of the central leaders of the PTI, PPP and PML-N.
As expected, every party claims it will win majority seats with public support and form the next government.
These are the first elections in AJK after Indian government’s illegal, immoral act of August 5, 2019 by which it had annexed occupied Kashmir and deprived the state of its special status.
Therefore, the role of the new AJK government will be very important as it will have to act in close coordination with the government in Islamabad.
Previous AJK elections held in 2016 had brought the PML-N to power with 31 seats in the 55-member house.
While it’s for the people of AJK to decide who should rule the state in the changed situation, but for a better working of the system and in the future interest of the state the crown should go to the PTI.
Perhaps a coalition of the PTI, PPP, PML-N and Muslim Conference should be a better option despite the individual win of any party, but in our culture it is unlikely to work. The leaders of the non-PTI parties will keep creating problems for the federal government. Their presence will not be felt unless the din of democracy is audible across the globe.
It is unfortunate that our political parties want the democracy in its purest form but they don’t have the kind of tolerance required for the success of such a setup in which different parties are in power at the Centre and in provinces.
The ongoing friction between the PTI-led federal government and the PPP-led Sindh government on a daily basis will easily illustrate the point. Every day the Sind government and Centre are daggers drawn at each other.
On the contrary the governments of Punjab, KP, Balochistan and GB have complete harmony with the Islamabad government.
A similar – rather worse – situation was witnessed when Benazir Bhutto had been elected prime minister as a result of the 1988 elections that had brought Mian Nawaz Sharif to power in Punjab. Without exaggeration, every day it was a scene of Pakistan-India war. The first female prime minister was insulted every day on various pretexts. (Disgraced Hussain Haqqani was then with Mian Nawaz Sharif and he used to give him new ideas for tarnishing the image of the first female prime minister of Pakistan).
This means that the system will work smoothly and the Kashmir cause will be served better if the PTI comes to power in AJK as a result of the elections. But the decision lies with the people of AJK.
There are a total of 2,870,090 registered voters in AJK.
There are some keenly watched constituencies. Incumbent Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, belonging to the PML-N, is a candidate on two seats from Muzaffarabad. He is challenged by the candidates of the PTI, PPP, Muslim Conference (MC) of Sardar Attique, Jamaat-e-Islami and others.
PTI’s Sardar Tanveer Ilyas is vying for a Bagh seat and is facing journalist-turned- politician Mushtaq Minhas of the PML-N, apart from the nominees of the PPP, Jamaat-e-Islami, MC and others.
Former Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood, the president of the AJK chapter of PTI, is pitched against his traditional rival of the PML-N among others for a Mirpur seat.
Another former Prime Minister Sardar Attique is fighting for the Dheerkot seat and is being challenged by the representatives of the PML-N, PTI, PPP, Jamaat-e-Islami and others.
Yet another ex-Prime Minister Sardar Yaqoob of the PPP is contesting for two Sundhnoti seats and is facing candidates of all the other leading political parties.
A total of 701 candidates are in the run for general 45 seats, including 579 candidates for 33 constituencies within AJK and 122 for 12 refugee constituencies in Pakistan.
In six constituencies reserved for refugees from Jammu residing in different areas of Pakistan, 86 out of 94 candidates who filed nomination papers were declared valid but only 72 are now left in the race. For the remaining six seats allocated to refugees from the Kashmir Valley, 78 nomination papers were filed, 74 were found in order and 50 candidates are finally in the run.