ISLAMABAD - Election for 53-member Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly (AJKLA) set for July 25 is drawing nearer but there has hardly been any mention by contesting candidates and parties about India’s 6th August 2019 revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Rather, all the major political parties participating in the election are focusing on just point-scoring with public-appealing slogans to do this or that once election is concluded and their party secures victory. Over 3.2 million voters will elect a 53-member assembly for a five-year term. Out of 53 seats, 45 are general, while eight are reserved for women, technocrats and religious scholars. The election fever has taken over the region in the power game, which is largely dominated by clan politics.
There are five major political parties and groups who have fielded their candidates for almost all the 45 constituencies.
Five important parties, as well as other political groups, have nominated candidates for almost all the 45 constituencies of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly (AJKLA) in the July 25 general elections. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of Prime Minister Imran Khan has fielded its nominees for all the seats while the main opposition parties the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have put up candidates in 44 constituencies each.
The All J&K Muslim Conference and the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have awarded tickets to their representatives on 42 and 40 constituencies respectively. The main contest is likely to take place among the cardholders of the major political parties. However, independents, given their influence in certain areas, are also likely to make it to the AJKLA. The federal government proscribed the TLP in April this year under the Anti-Terrorism Act for its violent activities but has not got it de-registered by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The main contest is likely to take place among the cardholders of the major political parties. However, independents, given their influence in certain areas, are also likely to make it to the AJKLA. The PTI also has candidates for all the 33 seats located in Azad Kashmir and the 12 seats for Kashmiri refugees settled in Pakistan. Similarly, the PMLN and PPP are vying for all the 33 AJK seats and 11 representatives each for the 12 refugee seats.
The TLP has also put up its candidates for all the 33 AJK seats while it has seven candidates for the refugee seats. The All J&K Muslim Conference has nominated 32 aspirants for the 33 AJK seats and ten for the 12 refugees’ seats.
The Jamat-e-Islami has sponsored 28 candidates; the J&K United Movement 16 nominees; the Jammu Kashmir People’s Party 17 cardholders; the JK Liberation League 12 contestants; Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) 11 nominees; J&K Awami Tehreek 11 representatives and the Pakistan People’s Party (Shaheed Bhutto) 10 aspirants.
A total of 261 independent candidates are also in the race in the 33 AJK constituencies while 56 independents are vying for the 12 refugees’ seats. In some areas, they are expected to carry the day.
Since the constituencies do not have many voters as in Pakistan, there is a strong possibility that there would be small leads producing unexpected winners in some cases.
In most constituencies, more than a dozen contenders are trying their luck, which will also reduce the margin of victory or defeat.