MUZAFFARABAD, July 12: The ruling Muslim Conference (MC) is all set to form a new government in Azad Jammu and Kashmir but this time around with a different chief executive, most likely the party’s 51-year old president Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan.
Of the 40 seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly, the MC had clinched 20, just two seats short of simple majority, but the party is optimistic about getting the support of independents to retain its stay in the corridors of power.
Opposition People’s Party Azad Kashmir, which has won seven seats, has accused President Gen Pervez Musharraf of ‘manipulating election results.
According to unofficial results, the MC has triumphed in 14 constituencies in AJK and six of the Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan. The party had shown best performance in Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat’s home district of Kotli by emerging victorious in all the five constituencies.
However, in the earthquake-affected Muzaffarabad district, it grabbed only one seat.
Trailing behind the MC is the PPAJK with seven seats, all secured in the AJK, mainly in Muzaffarabad and Neelum districts. One seat was clinched by its ally Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party in Poonch.
The People’s Muslim League of former prime minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry had won only four seats, three in the AJK and one in Pakistan.
Two seats were clinched by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi, where other contestants had boycotted polling following alleged rigging. Six seats were bagged by the independents, four in the AJK and two in Pakistan. Polling in one constituency in Pakistan (LA 33-Jammu and others IV) was cancelled by the returning officer and is likely to be held within next four days, according to Election Commissioner Sheikh Mohammad Naseem.
The winning independents include three ministers of the outgoing government who after being refused tickets by the MC parliamentary board had decided to contest as members of the Muslim Conference Haqiqi group. They are: Agriculture Minister Noreen Arif, Education Minister Chaudhry Mohammad Aziz and Industries Minister Mohammad Yaqub Khan.
Mrs Arif is so far the only woman who has contested and won direct elections in the AJK territory. Earlier, Shamim Akhtar had won direct election but from a refugees’ constituency in Punjab.
The election commissioner told Dawn that the notification of the elected candidates would be issued on Thursday as official counting would finish during the next 24 hours. According to him, the voter turnout was over 50 per cent.
He said the schedule for election on eight special seats of the assembly, five reserved for women and one each for technocrats, religious scholars and overseas Kashmiris, would be announced after that.
As some MLAs are reportedly holding meetings in Islamabad regarding the future set up, PPAJK President Sahibzada Ishaq Zaffar has criticised President Gen Pervez Musharraf for ‘manipulating election results.’
“Since Gen Musharraf did not want to hear that Benazir Bhutto’s loyalists have emerged victorious in the AJK, the institutions under him had facilitated the MC’s victory,” he said here.
He said he would discuss the situation with his leader and adopt the future course of action in accordance with her guidance.
Mr Zaffar asked the federal government not to become a party in the AJK affairs, particularly at a time when a broader consensus was required on the Kashmir issue. A PML leader and former MLA, Sardar Sawar Khan, said that the federal government had earned a bad name by taking sides with the MC in the elections.
“It is an open secret that they (federal government) had marked constituencies and got the results of their choice to bring the MC in power,” he said while talking to Dawn.
This correspondent made several attempts to contact the MC chief, but each time his staff said that he was busy in a meeting.
successful candidates: Following is the complete list of successful candidates of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly’s unofficial results: LA 1, Mirpur I, Chaudhry Mohammad Yousaf (MC); LA 2, Mirpur II Chaudhry Abdul Majeed (PPAJK); LA 3, Mirpur III, Barrister Sultan Mahmood (PML); LA 4, Mirpur IV, Chaudhry Rukhsar Ahmed (MC); LA 5, Bhimber I, Mirza Shafiq Jaral (MC); LA 6, Bhimber II, Chaudhry Ali Shan Soni (Ind); LA 7, Bhimber III, Chaudhry Anwarul Haq (PML); LA 8, Kotli I, Malick Mohammad Nawaz (MC); LA 9, Kotli II, Sardar Naeem Ahmed (MC); LA 10, Kotli III, Raja Naseer Ahmed (MC); LA 11, Kotli IV, Raja Munsif Dad (MC); LA 12, Kotli V, Raja Nisar Ahmed Khan (MC); LA 13, Bagh I, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan (MC); LA 14, Bagh II, Col (retired) Raja Naseem (MC); LA 15, Bagh III, Sardar Qamaruz Zaman (PPAJK); LA 16, Bagh IV, Chaudhry Mohammad Aziz (Ind); LA 17, Poonch I, Abdul Qayyum Niazi (MC); LA 18, Poonch II, Sardar Ghulam Sadiq (PPAJK); LA 19, Poonch III, Haji Yaqoob Khan (Ind); LA 20, Poonch IV, Sardar Khalid Ibrahim Khan (JKPP); LA 21, Sudhnoti I, Dr Najeeb Naqi (MC); LA 22, Sudhnoti II, Sardar Farooq Tahir (MC); LA 23, Neelum I, Mian Abdul Waheed (PPAJK); LA 24, Muzaffarabad I, Noreen Arif (Ind); LA 25, Muzaffarabad II, Syed Murtaza Gillani (MC); LA 26, Muzaffarabad III, Mohammad Hanif Awan (PPAJK); LA 27, Muzaffarabad IV, Chaudhry Latif Akbar (PPAJK); LA 28, Muzaffarabad V, Sahibzada Ishaq Zaffar (PPAJK); LA 29, Muzaffarabad VI, Chaudhry Mohammad Rasheed (PML); LA 30, Jammu and others I, Tahir Mahmood Khokhar (MQM); LA 31, Jammu and others II, Chaudhry Ismail (MC); LA 32, Jammu and others III, Hafiz Hamid Raza (MC); LA 33, Jammu and others IV, polling cancelled; LA 34, Jammu and others V, Akbar Ibrahim (Ind); LA 35, Jammu and others VI, Raja Mohammad Siddique (MC); LA 36, Valley I, Saleem Butt (MQM); LA 37, Valley II, Deevan G. Mohiuddin (PML); LA 38, Valley III, Syed Shaukat Shah (MC); LA 39, Valley IV, Shah Ghulam Qadir (MC); LA 40, Valley V, Sanaullah Qadri (MC); LA 41, Valley VI, Abdul Majid Khan (Ind).