AJK Elections: An unsurprising result

Published: June 27, 2011
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A Kashmiri woman casts her vote at a polling station in the general elections in Muzaffarabad. PHOTO: AFP

A Kashmiri woman casts her vote at a polling station in the general elections in Muzaffarabad. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: 

In an election that had attracted unprecedented attention, the result was in line with the history of the AJK Legislative Assembly: the party in office in Islamabad – the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – came to power in Muzaffarabad too, winning 19 of the 36 seats whose results were announced late on Sunday night.

The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), whose direct foray into AJK electoral politics had made headlines around the country, was able to win only 9 seats, four of which were those representing the Kashmiri diaspora in Punjab, where the party is in office in the provincial government.

The Muslim Conference, the Kashmir-based party that has ruled the region for much of its history since 1948, had one of its poorest showings, winning only four seats. While outgoing AJK Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan of the Muslim Conference was able to win his own seat, his son was defeated in LA-26, in a constituency where opponents alleged that the ballot papers  were designed to ensure that votes cast by PPP and PML-N voters would be invalidated.

Yet the Muslim Conference’s strategy of trying to punish the PML-N for abandoning its alliance with them appeared to work: in several constituencies, the PPP candidate was able to win a narrow victory over the PML-N candidate because a strong MC candidate was playing the role of a spoiler, splitting away enough right-wing votes to ensure that the left-wing PPP’s candidate won.

The PPP appears willing to utilise the Muslim Conference’s disenchantment with the PML-N to create an alliance. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was reported to have called AJK Prime Minister Sardar Attique to discuss the possibility of a coalition, even though Sunday’s results appear to indicate that the PPP could form a government in Muzaffarabad without needing any partners.

Despite the tumultuous nature of the election, however, there were several constants. Many of the stalwarts of AJK politics won their elections by relatively comfortable margins, including the current prime minister and three former prime ministers: Raja Farooq Haider Khan, Barrister Sultan Mehmood, and Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan.

Two independents also won seats for the AJK Legislative Assembly. It was not immediately clear which party they might choose to align themselves with when the legislature meets.

Of the 49 seats in the region’s assembly, 41 are elected representatives. Twenty-nine represent the residents of AJK itself, while 12 represent the Kashmiri diaspora in different parts of Pakistan. The election commission had postponed the elections for at least three constituencies before Sunday, citing law and order concerns.

By 11 am on election day, a fourth election – for LA-37 in Lahore – had also been postponed. Results in another constituency, LA 17 in Poonch, had been suspended after political activists set the returning officer’s office on fire, reportedly also burning the records of the results in that constituency.

Results in two constituencies were awaited till the filing of this story.

(Additional reporting by Irfan Ghauri in Muzaffarabad, Azmat Malik, Waqar Satti, Qaiser Shirazi in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and Abdul Manan in Lahore)

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Sameer
    Jun 27, 2011 - 9:46AM

    Why should the diaspora have so many seats? Why do they get to vote in both the AJK election and the local provincial election?

    Is it because the AJK government essentially has no power and this is all a big farce?Recommend

  • Ashok
    Jun 27, 2011 - 9:51AM

    Though this is a comment not related to this article – does anyone know why ‘Athar Quraishi’ does not comment anymore? He wrote the best comments hands down. Just search his name on the ET search bar for those who may not have had the chance to read his comments before. I would add ‘Mirza’ on this list as well. These two guys should team up with Mr. Saroop Ijaz and can be the three musketeers to take over Pakistan and make it a country worth enough to envy.Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Jun 27, 2011 - 10:36AM

    What was the ratio of people who voted to total eligible voters i.e. percentage of voting?Recommend

  • ziaulhassan
    Jun 27, 2011 - 11:06AM

    LA 16 Hawali AJK candidate of PPP Mr. Faisal Rathore win this Area but another candidate Mr. Muhammad Aziz occupied the office,staff of Election Commission of AJK,Area of Farward Khutta with gunmens and not announced to result of LA 16 Hawali in last night.And disconnect to Land lines and mobile Service. Because he is Sr. Minister of AJK Government.Recommend

  • Shahid Saeed
    Jun 27, 2011 - 11:10AM

    Pakistani media should employ some real bright people for fake polls against PPP. The four seats PMLN won is from Kashmiri’s in Punjab elections, means PPP swept AJK elections. Media persons should revise their lies wrapped in polls and talk shows! Even today PPP is most popular party with 70% support in masses!Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Jun 27, 2011 - 11:46AM

    Simply, congrats to who ever wins these elections and forms the government. We must stop blaming if one does not gets elected. Ground reality is this that who ever is in power at the center (Islamabad) always wins elections in Kashmir. Recommend

  • Faisal
    Jun 27, 2011 - 11:57AM

    No wonder why this country is suffering… The people are themselves responsible for electing corrupt people… we actually like this rubbish system and are part of it… its a shame that the most corrupt people are again ruling the masses… Recommend

  • shahid ahmed
    Jun 27, 2011 - 12:21PM

    i think that there should be non partybased election Recommend

  • Butt Seriously
    Jun 27, 2011 - 12:45PM

    Why on Earth did PPP win this election! Can some one tell me what Good they have done for this unfortunate country to deserve this?Recommend

  • Lollers
    Jun 27, 2011 - 12:57PM

    Like I have maintained for a long time now, we the people of Pakistan are responsible ourselves for where we are. We complain complain complain, blame india, usa, cia, raw, mossad… basically everyone and their mom but refuse to look at what we do ourselves by electing corrupt people. We deserve what we get…Recommend

  • Mubashir
    Jun 27, 2011 - 1:12PM

    Many Lotas who kept changing loyalties shamelessly have returned triumphantly to play dirty game again. But it is encouraging that many of them failed to make their way to the Legislative Assembly. Recommend

  • Masud
    Jun 27, 2011 - 1:39PM

    Nawaz Sharif should revisit his strategy of islation and agreesivly abusing his opponents. He spent a lot of resources of Punjab to win AJK elections and was only able to win 4 seats from Kashmir territory two of these won by the sitting prime minister himself. He should be ashamed of his adamant stand wrongly called as ‘principled attack’.Recommend

  • Lobster
    Jun 27, 2011 - 1:44PM

    People elects dacoits and then complain of robbery. Good luck people of Azad Kashmir.
    Don’t forget that you deserve what you will get in next 5 years.Recommend

  • Jun 27, 2011 - 2:14PM

    Geo AwamRecommend

  • faraz
    Jun 27, 2011 - 2:26PM

    PTI’s revolution hasnt reached AJK?Recommend

  • sadozai
    Jun 27, 2011 - 3:33PM

    Very well said Lollers. Allah gives us the rulers as we are ourselves. Since we the people are rotten then we deserve our rotten leaders, so dont complain and blame others.Recommend

  • Naveed Javed
    Jun 27, 2011 - 5:11PM

    PPP 20, PMLN 7, Muslim Conference 2 = Real Popularity Index (RPI) to open eyes of so many!Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Jun 27, 2011 - 8:37PM

    @Faisal:
    How many voters participated in the elections? More than 50% or less?Recommend

  • khan
    Jun 27, 2011 - 11:09PM

    The elections in Kashmir have nothing to do with party or at least very little. they are all seats inherited or controlled by one or two families, so they might change the name of the party, i.e. go from Muslim Conference to PPP or PML – N, they are all the same ppl,

    the best candidate in Mirpur that never won the election was Advocate Malik Majeed, every educated person voted for him but he barely got any of the total vote,.

    in my town basically we used to have a neighborhood meeting and the whole muhalla decides who to vote for. it doesn’t matter which party they are from, but if they promise to fix our roads, we voted for them……..Recommend

  • Salman Orangiwala
    Jun 27, 2011 - 11:11PM

    For once in my life i would like to rhyme with the petty- buergeosis supporters of PTI .
    The masses of rural Paksistan havent learnt thier lessons and the possibilities are far remote that they will.

    Imagine Peoples Party winning !!!!! After what they have done to the AWAM ?
    Huner , Double digit Inflaion Corruption , lawlwssness , critical every crisis and what not …

    The system has gone to dogs .VIVA LA DEMOCRACY !!!!! .Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 28, 2011 - 1:56AM

    AJK’s liberal and secular people had no choice except to vote for PPP. There is no national party, except PPP period. Even in the new province of G&B, the PPP swept the polls. Unless the right wing makes a grand alliance against the PPP, they have no chance in any fair elections except in central Punjab. That is the main reason NS makes electoral alliances with all the right wing parties, Imran Khan would do the same, if he has to win more than a few seats. Recommend

  • Dr. M. Y. Awan
    Jun 28, 2011 - 10:21PM

    I congratulate all winners and request the loosers to accept the result. Continuation of democracy is very much required. One must know that PPP is the party of masses and it cannot be defeated without help of agencies/establishment. Agencies created PML-N should know that this time agencies did not come to help them. Now all parties must play their role to strengthen the democracy for the better future of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Jun 28, 2011 - 11:34PM

    @Mirza: Here it seems that you do not consider PPP as a secular and liberal party. There are only three parties including MQM and ANP who are on the same page when it comes to think things with liberal and secular approach. The rest are all rightists with dubious characters and followings. Bottom Line: It is on record that AJK elections are always won by a party which governs in the center due to the sensitivity of the area in which Jack Boots play major role.Recommend

  • Dr. M. Y. Awan
    Jul 19, 2011 - 7:38PM

    Elections on 12 seats in Pakistan should not be held directly. These elections should take place in the manner of eight seats. Election on these 12 seats are never free and fair. The number of these seats should also be reduced to a maximum of SIX seats and elected by the MLAs directly elected from Azad Kashmir territories.

    Recommend

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