Imran’s PTI wins majority in Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, set to form new government - GulfToday

Imran’s PTI wins majority in Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, set to form new government


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."

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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.

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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.

election1-750x450PTI 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.

election-750x450A woman shows her thumb after casting vote at a polling station in AJK. Twitter photo

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.

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