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MUZAFFARABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and its ally Jamaat-i-Islami won four of the five seats reserved for women in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in the elections held here on Friday.

The Pakistan Peoples Party got one seat.

Sehrish Qamar, Faiza Imtiaz and Nasima Wani of the PML-N, Riffat Aziz of the JI and Shazia Akbar of the PPP got seven votes each and were declared successful by the Election Commission.

Mehrun Nisa of the Muslim Conference, who had the support of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, bagged five votes and Nabila Irshad of the Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party one vote. Shahnaz Zeb of the PML-N did not secure any vote.

Polling was held in the MLA Hostel and all 41 directly elected members of the legislative assembly participated in it.

Of them, 31 belonged to the PML-N, three each to the PPP and MC, two to the PTI, one to the JKPP and another was an independent candidate.

The JI and JKPP were allies of the PML-N, while the MC was the PTI’s ally in the general elections. The PPP had contested the elections single-handedly.

PML-N’s regional senior vice president Chaudhry Tariq Farooq told Dawn that the party had pledged two reserved seats to the JI in return for its support in the general elections, but no such commitment had been made with the JKPP.

On Thursday, JI’s regional chief Abdul Rashid Turabi and two PML-N nominees were elected unopposed on the seats reserved for technocrats, religious scholars and overseas Kashmiris.

However, with only three votes at hand, the PPP manoeuvred well to clinch one of the women’s seats, causing a setback to the MC which also had five votes.

According to sources, apart from getting the vote of the lone independent MLA, the PPP was also aided by the PML-N with three votes, in a visible bid to contain the MC.

In reply to a question, a PPP leader said this was a result of “neither conciliation nor currency, but affinity”.

However, MC president Sardar Attique Ahmed remarked that it had exposed the “unholy nexus” between the two parties.

Interestingly, PPP’s candidate Ms Akbar is facing a case in the AJK High Court for receiving dual salary as adviser to the AJK Council and an MLA.

The petition, filed by Nabeela Ayoub of her own party, was admitted on Thursday and the respondent was asked to furnish a written statement by Aug 2.

Speaker Sadiq was disqualified by the court on the same charges on July 18, but was granted interim relief by the AJK Supreme Court a day before the July 21 elections, which he lost to a PML-N candidate.

After the elections for the reserved seats, the 49-member house has been completed and now the PML-N has 37 members, the JI two and the JKPP one. On the opposition benches, the PPP has four seats, the MC three and the PTI two. One member is yet to decide his affiliation.

The assembly’s members will be administered the oath by the outgoing speaker on Saturday, following which it will elect the new speaker and deputy speaker.

According to an announcement by the PML-N, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved the names of Shah Ghulam Qadir and Sardar Farooq Ahmed Tahir for the offices of speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2016