MUZAFFARABAD: The Election Commission of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday issued a veiled warning to members of the federal cabinet and other visiting dignitaries from Pakistan against resorting to anything in violation of the ‘code of conduct’ for the polls set to be held on July 25.
Wilful violation of the code of conduct by any campaigner might also lead to the disqualification of the candidate concerned, added the constitutional body in a press release.
Though the press release had just referred to a “minister of the government of Pakistan currently on a visit to AJK,” it was, however, clearly directed at Ali Ameen Gandapur, federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs, who had arrived in Mirpur on Thursday evening on a four-day tour for the campaign of his party’s candidates in Mirpur and Kotli districts.
701 candidates to contest for 45 general seats in July 25 elections
In his speech at one of the public meetings, the other day, Mr Gandapur had announced that the [central] government would give a “Rs500 billion package” to AJK if the people voted the PTI to power in the territory.
At the same event, he had also referred to Gilgit-Baltistan, saying each constituency in the territory used to get just Rs60 million for development, but the PTI-led central government had increased this amount to Rs1 billion for each constituency.
Mr Gandapur had also assured another gathering that the PTI would resolve issues of clean drinking water and electricity and construct and develop roads, bridges and playgrounds and upgrade health facilities in AJK.
It had been observed that in his address at different events, the [federal] minister had not only announced different development projects in an act that put a question mark on the transparency and impartiality of the polls but he had also made some such announcements which directly amounted to tempting the masses to sell their votes, said the AJK Election Commission in its press release. “Such a conduct constitutes a glaring violation of the code of conduct, prepared and publicly disclosed by the election commission,” it added.
The election commission stated that it had given directives in black and white to the chief secretary and all deputy commissioners “to make sure that the visiting political personalities and representatives of the government [of Pakistan] were updated on the code of conduct as well as what amounted to its violation, well before their participation in any programme”.
“They should be made aware that the code of conduct is binding upon them as well, and they cannot directly or indirectly announce development schemes or any other projects which can influence the free, fair and impartial elections, ‘’ the commission said.
Additionally, it added, the visitors should also be informed to ensure decency in their conversations and speeches and avoid use of improper language lest it could vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of this region.
Final list of candidates issued
The AJK Election Commission on Sunday released the final list of 701 candidates trying their luck in 45 general seats of the Legislative Assembly on July 25.
As many as 579 and 122 candidates were in the fray in 33 constituencies in AJK and 12 in Pakistan, respectively, said the commission in a separate press release.
Giving the breakup, it said that 80 candidates were contesting against the four seats of Mirpur district, 53 against the three seats of Bhimber district, 104 against the six seats of Kotli district, 76 against the four seats of Bagh and Haveli districts, 114 against the six seats of Poonch and Sudhnoti districts, 39 against the two seats of Neelum district and 113 against the seven seats of Muzaffarabad and Jhelum valley districts.
In Pakistan, there were 72 candidates in the six constituencies of the refugees from occupied Jammu and 50 candidates in the six constituencies of the refugees from occupied Kashmir valley.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2021