RAWALPINDI: Polling for the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections concluded in the twin cities on Sunday, with verbal clashes between PML-N and PTI workers reported in some polling stations.
In the AJK Legislative Assembly, three Valley and Jammu constituencies fall in the twin cities and Rawalpindi Division and six in different districts of the province, including Lahore.
Despite the hot weather, polling started on time and ended at 5pm. Voters remained active in PML-N, PPP and PTI camps in different areas especially in the city and cantonment areas. Strict security measures had been adopted for smooth polling in the garrison city.
Business activities continued as per routine as the main markets, bazaars and shopping centres remained open.
Raja Bazaar, Moti Bazaar, Namak Mandi, Kashmiri Bazaar, Iqbal Road, Jinnah Road, Liaquat Road, Bara Market, Sabzi Mandi, Sarafa Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, Benazir Bhutto Road, Bank Road, Haider Road, Commercial Market and other areas remained open, with public transport operating normally.
Strict security arrangements made; business activities remain unaffected
Minimal activity was seen outside polling stations in the afternoon, however, in the evening, people gathered in their respective polling stations to find out about the results.
During the day, PTI MNA Amir Mehmood Kiani and others visited different polling stations. PML-N leaders led by Rawalpindi Mayor Sardar Naseem Khan and union council chairmen of the party also remained present in their respective union councils to boost the morale of party workers.
A PPP spokesman said the party’s polling camps in Rawalpindi had been dislocated on the directives of the local police and administration, adding that the government was rigging elections through such tactics.
In a statement, the spokesperson said the PTI government distributed the election material for different polling stations in vehicles of PTI.
On the other hand, the local police were of the view that no camp would be allowed within the 300 metres radius of polling stations.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed distributed sweets after the election results of LA-XLIII-KashmirValley-IV were announced in which PTI candidate Javed Butt won by obtaining 782 votes. PML-N’s Naseema Khatoon secured 720 votes while PPP’s Hamza Majeed Bazmi got 208 votes.
The total number of votes in this constituency was 2,457 with 1,819 votes polled and 28 rejected.
While announcing PTI’s victory, Mr Ahmed said after forming government in Azad Kashmir, the party would become the voice of innocent Kashmiris on global platforms.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was in favour of electronic voting machines so allegations of rigging would end.
PML-N Metropolitan President Sardar Naseem told Dawn that PTI forced people to vote for them while using local police on the eve of polling day.
The elections were rigged through old techniques to change the voters lists, he claimed.
“We got defeated on this seat by 54 votes and many of our votes were rejected. The administration and police played their role to help PTI win,” he alleged.
56 polling stations set up in Attock
A total of 56 polling stations were set up across Attock district on Sunday in connection with the elections in Azad Kashmir.
According to District Election Commissioner Umer Khattab, there are 4,065 Kashmiri voters in the district.
He said as per the voters’ list, people can cast their votes for two seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly — LA-30 Jammu-6 and LA-44-Valley 5 — allocated for refugees. The polling process started on time and no untoward incident was reported till the filing this report.
District Police Officer Rana Shoaib Mehmood visited various polling stations and reviewed the security situation. He informed media that around 500 security personnel had been deployed at the polling stations.
Member of the National Assembly from Attock retired Maj Tahir Sadiq told mediapersons outside a polling station in Hassanabdal that all Kashmiris living in Attock would support Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision by voting for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. — Additional reporting by Amjad Iqbal
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2021