South Asia

Imran Khan’s PTI wins PoK Legislative Assembly Elections marred by Violence and Poll Rigging Allegations

Various incidents of violence were reported in the illegally held elections of PoK. Apart from several people being injured in clashes, political activists were also detained by the police.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party is all set to form the government in the illegally occupied territory of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) for the first time ever after it won 25 out of the 45 seats in the legislative assembly elections that were marred by deadly violence and allegations of rigging by the Opposition.

As per the results announced by state-run Radio Pakistan, while Imran Khan’s PTI secured a clear majority to form the government without the support of any other party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) came second with 11 seats and the reigning Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) secured just 6.

Pakistan PM Khan thanked the people of the region for placing their trust in his party and leading to PTI’s electoral victory. “We will focus on bringing people out of poverty through our Ehsaas and Kamyab Pakistan programmes, and establish accountability and transparency in government.” he tweeted.

On Kashmir, which is an integral part of India, Khan said that he will continue to raise the issue of Pakistan’s claim over the territory on all international forums including at the United Nations.

Allegations of Rigging by the Opposition

The conduct and result of the PoK Legislative Assembly Elections was far from peaceful and saw an exchange of allegations by Opposition leaders PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz who claimed that the PTI won the polls through rigging.

The parties rejected the results of the elections held on Sunday. PML-N Vice President Maryam said that she has not accepted the results and will never accept them. “I did not accept the 2018 results either nor do I acknowledge this fake government,” she tweeted. Further, PPP’s vice-president Senator Sherry Rehman said, “there is proof of systematic rigging in the election.”

Elections Marred by Deadly Violence

The PoK elections saw a mass violation of law and order with various clashes being reported in the region. Two PTI workers were shot and killed in clashes with PPP activists at a polling station in Charhoi area of Kotli district on Sunday. Also, at least four soldiers, who were part of army troops deployed to help maintain peace during the elections were killed while three soldiers and a civilian driver were injured.

In another incident, five police constables were injured after Jamaat-e-Islami activists attacked them with batons at the Dhal Chakhya polling station of Jhelum valley district.

Notably, PML-N candidate, Choudhary Muhammad Ismail Gujjar threatened the administration that he would “seek India’s help” if they failed to address his concerns after his party’s polling agents were removed from a polling station.

However, the region’s Election Commission rejected the allegations and said that the polls were held in a fair and peaceful manner. They expressed satisfaction over the law and order and appreciated the performance of the police and the Pakistan Army for ensuring the peaceful conduct of the elections.

The PoK legislative assembly has a total of 53 members of which only 45 are directly elected, while 5 seats are reserved for women and 3 are meant for the technocrats. Traditionally, the ruling party in the country wins the elections in PoK. The 2016 election was won by the PML-N while the Muslim Conference (MC) and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP) won one seat each.

India has previously slammed Pakistan for its decision to hold elections in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of PoK which the country has illegally occupied, and said that “any action to alter the status of the militarily occupied region has no legal basis.” Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that is an integral part of India.

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