Imran Khan waves to PTI supporters during a rally in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir. File
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) clinched a massive victory by securing 25 seats in the general elections to the Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly (AJKLA), leaving its main rivals far behind.
Chief Election Commissioner Abdul Rashid Sulehria told a news conference on Monday that PTI won 25 seats, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secured 11 seats, while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which had previously held a majority in the body, took just six seats.
Sulehria said that the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference (AJ&KMC) and J&K Peoples Party could manage just one seat each, while the result of a Bagh seat was withheld for re-poll in four polling stations as their ballot papers were wasted.
Sulehria dismissed accusations, mainly from the PML-N, that PTI had rigged the election. "We have fulfilled our promise to conduct free, fair and transparent elections," he told journalists in Muzaffarabad.
The PTI got a total of 613,590 votes (32% ) followed by the PML-N, which secured 491,091 (25%) and PPP that bagged 349,895 (18.28%). The voter turnout was 58% compared to the 2016 general elections when it was 65%.
With its big win, the PTI landed in a position where it will form the AJK government without the support of any other political party.
Imran congratulated his party's winning candidates and thanked voters in a tweet following the announcement of results.
"I want to thank the (people) ... for placing their trust in the PTI through their votes," he wrote. "We will focus on bringing the (people) out of poverty."
The PTI secured sixteen seats in the AJK territory while it got nine seats of Kashmiri refugees settled in Pakistan.
Celebrations immediately broke out in PTI's camps after it won a majority in the AJKLA. "The Ambassador of Kashmir has won. Congratulations Pakistan!" PTI tweeted in triumph.
A majority of the ministers of the outgoing cabinet lost as the voters disapproved their performance. This is the first time that the PTI has won the AJK elections. In the last polls held in 2016, it had got only two seats.
The PTI’s victory followed the old practice that a party ruling the federal government wins the AJK polls. In 2011, the PPP, which was then in power at the federal level, had triumphed and formed the AJK government. In 2016, the PML-N, which had the federal government, also won the AJK polls.
Importantly, outgoing Prime Minister Farooq Haider of the PML-N, former Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood of the PTI, former President Sardar Yaqoob of the PPP and former Prime Minister of AJ&KMC Sardar Attique Ahmed succeeded. Farooq Haider was defeated in one constituency. He had contested two seats. AJKLA Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir also won.
PTI workers celebrate the victory in Muzaffarabad. Twitter photo
Billionaire real estate tycoon Sardar Tanveer Ilyas and Barrister Sultan Mahmood are in the run for the office of the state prime minister.
Ilyas, who is a newcomer to the AJK politics, is said to be the “strongest” candidate for the top slot. He owns the most famous residential and shopping mall of Islamabad.
PTI officials said Sultan Mahmood has expressed displeasure on the possibility of not being given the position. However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said both the candidates were being considered for the slot but “the final decision will be taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan.” He confirmed that both Ilyas and Mahmood were being considered for the office of AJK’s prime minister.
Ilyas is also serving as special assistant to the Punjab chief minister on investment. The PML-N has accused him of giving “heavy” funds to the ruling PTI. However, Ilyas has denied the allegation.
Ilyas said the final decision would be taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He, however, said that if he was given the slot of AJK premier he would meet his expectations.
Previously, Mahmood had become prime minister when had been associated with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Later, he joined the PTI.
The prime minister termed the signing of performance agreements a step in the right direction, and said the performance of each ministry will be evaluated based on the contracts and every ministry will put pressure on itself to meet its targets.
Addressing a ceremony in Gwadar on Monday, the prime minister said several projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would bring prosperity and development to the province. Imran said "Pakistan can benefit from its strategic location and also from the expertise of its best friend China.”
Addressing the launching ceremony of the "No one Sleeps Hungry” programme in Islamabad, Imran said that the 30 million deserving families will be given direct subsidy from June this year.
According to Gallup Pakistan, 70 per cent Pakistanis have said they expect to see the PTI government complete its full term. Of the remaining, 20 per cent believed it would not be able to complete its five-year term, while 11 per cent were not sure.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill held a fiery media conference in which he lashed out at Shirazi for criticising the government’s economic policies in her article.
Sheikh Mohammed exchanged cordial conversations with Simonyte about the bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to advance economic relations towards a new stage that achieves the interests of the two countries and their development aspirations in various fields of common interest, foremost of which are the sectors of advanced technology, innovation, and renewable energy.
This was announced by the Seismology Department of the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), which monitors earthquake activities in the United Arab Emirates.
Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied during the visit by his sons, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, and Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.