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MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission on Thursday notified unopposed election of three candidates against one each seat reserved for technocrats, religious scholars and overseas Kashmiris, after withdrawal of papers by other nominees.

Abdul Rashid Turabi and Dr Mushtaq Ahmed of the AJK Jamaat-i-Islami and Abdul Khaliq Wasi of the PML-N had submitted nominations against the seat of technocrats, and Zubair Khan and Raja Javed Iqbal of the PML-N had submitted nominations against the seat of overseas Kashmiris. Mr Turabi had also submitted nominations against the seat of religious scholars along with Pir Ali Raza Bukhari of the PML-N.

On Thursday, Mr Turabi withdrew from the seat of religious scholars, Mr Ahmed and Mr Wasi withdrew from the seat of technocrats and Mr Khan withdrew from the seat of overseas Kashmiris, paving the way for unopposed election of Mr Turabi, Mr Bukhari and Mr Iqbal against the seats of technocrats, religious scholars and overseas Kashmiris, respectively.

The JI is an ally of the PML-N, though none of its members clinched any direct seat in general elections.

On Friday, election against the five seats reserved for women would be held by means of single non-transferable vote.

At the moment, eight candidates are in the fray.

They include Sehrish Qamar, Faiza Imtiaz, Nasima Wani and Shahnaz Zeb of the PML-N, Riffat Aziz of the JI, Nabila Irshad of the Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP), Shazia Akbar of the PPP and Mehrun Nisa of the Muslim Conference (MC).

Like JI, the JKPP is also an ally of the PML-N and its one member has clinched a direct seat in general elections.

The PTI, which has entered into an alliance with the MC, has not fielded any candidate.

The MC and PTI have three and two seats, respectively, while the PPP has three seats.

Analysts say that if the opposition parties do not unite and field a joint candidate, the PML-N can clinch all five seats on Friday.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2016