The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf clinched 25 general seats of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly, followed by 11 seats won by the PPP, six by PML-N and one each by two regional political parties in Sunday’s polls, it was officially announced on Monday.
The result of one constituency, LA-16 Bagh-III, was however withheld as polling in four of its stations could not be held due to rioting and other reasons, Chief Election Commissioner Abdul Rashid Sulehria said at a press conference in the central control room in Muzaffarabad, adding that re-polling at these stations was most likely to be held before July 29.
Sulehria said Sunday’s polling was “by and large peaceful” except for one tragic incident in Kotli which claimed two lives.
“The arrangements we made for the polls and the way we conducted them … I can say we have fulfilled our responsibility by holding free, fair and impartial elections,” he asserted.
He expressed his gratitude to the Pakistan Army, civil armed forces, AJK’s judiciary, executive and the Election Commission of Pakistan for their cooperation in maintaining law and order and holding free, fair and impartial elections, respectively.
Responding to a question, the CEC said he had not received even a single written complaint from any party about rigging. He also dismissed reports that results of any constituency were withheld or delayed.
Delay was caused in some cases only because it took time to transport results [on Form-24] from the remote rural areas to the returning officers concerned, he maintained.
However, all presiding officers announced results at their station concerned soon after the conclusion of the polling process, he added.
Sulehria told the presser that of the 3.22 million voters, as many as 1.99m had exercised their right to vote on Sunday, pushing the voter turnout to 62 per cent.
Of the polled votes, 17,993 were rejected, he said.
Responding to a question, election commission member Farhat Ali Mir said the body would try its best to conduct the second phase of elections, wherein candidates against eight reserved seats are elected, before July 29.
To another question, Mir said there was no provision in local election laws to invite international observers, which was why they did not invite anyone.
“However, if anyone came on their own we did not stop them either.”
When asked if the commission had compiled the number of votes secured by the contesting parties, he said it could not be done immediately.
The PTI candidates who secured victory were Azhar Sadiq (LA-1), Barrister Sultan Mahmood (LA-3), Chaudhry Arshad Hussain (LA-4), Ali Shan Soni (LA-6), Chaudhry Anwaarul Haqi (LA-7), Zafar Iqbal Malik (LA-8), Chaudhry Akhlaque (LA-11) and Ansar Abdali (LA-13) in Mirpur division; Sardar Tanveer Ilyas (LA-15), Abdul Qayyum Niazi (LA-18), Shahida Saghir (LA-22), Sardar Muhammad Hussain (LA-23) and Faheem Akhtar Rabbani (LA-24) in Poonch division; Khawaja Farooq Ahmed (LA-29), Chaudhry Muhammad Rasheed (LA-30) and Deevan Ali Chughtai (LA-33) from Muzaffarabad division; Riaz Ahmed (LA-34), Chaudhry Maqbool Gujjar (LA-35), Hafiz Hamid Raza (LA-36), Muhammad Akmal Sargala (LA-37), Muhammad Akbar Chaudhry (LA-38), Ghulam Mohiuddin Deevan (LA-41), Muhammad Asim Sharif (LA-42), Javed Butt (LA-43) and Abdul Majid Khan (LA-45) in the Kashmiri refugees constituencies in Pakistan.
The 11 successful PPP candidates were Chaudhry Qasim Majeed (LA-2), Javed Iqbal Budhanvi (LA-9) and Chaudhry Muhammad Yasin (from two constituencies — LA-10 and LA-12) in Mirpur division; Faisal Rathore (LA-17) and Sardar Yaqoob Khan (LA-20) in Poonch division; Mian Abdul Waheed (LA-26), Sardar Javaid Ayub (LA-27), Syed Bazil Ali Naqvi (LA-28) and Chaudhry Latif Akbar (LA-31) in Muzaffarabad division; and Aamir Abdul Ghaffar Lone (LA-40) in Pakistan.
The PML-N’s successful candidates were Waqar Ahmed Noor (LA-5) in Mirpur division; Sardar Aamir Altaf (LA-19) in Poonch division; Shah Ghulam Qadir (LA-25) and Raja Farooq Haider (LA-32) in Muzaffarabad division; Raja Muhammad Siddique (LA-39) and Ahmed Raza Qadri (LA-44) in Pakistan.
Besides them, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan of Muslim Conference and Sardar Hassan Ibrahim of Jammu Kashmir People’s Party were elected from LA-14 and LA-21, respectively, in Poonch division.
Protest by PPP activists
Meanwhile, a large number of PPP activists staged a sit-in outside the office of the returning officer in district headquarters Hattian Bala on Monday evening to protest what they alleged was manipulation of election results in LA-32 in favour of Haider, PML-N’s candidate and the outgoing AJK prime minister.
Haider had contested from two constituencies of Jhelum Valley district; he lost in LA-33 to PTI’s Deevan Ali Chughtai by a wide margin. However, in LA-32, his home constituency, he secured success over PPP’s Sahibzada Ashfaq Zaffar by a margin of fewer than 300 votes in results declared late in the night.
Rejecting the results, Zaffar claimed that his lead was converted by the presiding officers “associated with the prime minister” into defeat with malafide intention.
He said he had also submitted an application for recounting of votes, but alleged that the returning officer concerned was showing reluctance.
“In fact, Raja Farooq Haider had lost the election. He has been given this fake victory as face-saving,” he maintained.
“We will not leave this spot until the recounting is held in front of us,” he told Dawn at 8:45pm, adding that some top PPP leaders were on their way to attend the protest.