Why are AJK Elections Significant to Pakistani Political Parties?

Currently, political competition is fierce in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The results of this contest will come out after the July 25 elections, but at the moment Pakistan’s three major political parties are struggling to gain political supremacy in the region.

In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party are rivals. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will also address various rallies in Kashmir. According to the schedule issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Prime Minister has started the rally from Bagh District and gone to Mirpur and then to Muzaffarabad.

But this time the kind of political heat that is being seen during the elections in Pakistan-administered Kashmir has not been seen before, so why are these elections important for these three political parties?

One of the reasons for this is the tradition that the political party that forms the government in the federation also forms the government in Kashmir because it is not an autonomous region but is administered by Pakistan.

One of the reasons for this is the current political environment in Pakistan. The formation and subsequent split of the Pakistan Democratic Movement in the last six months, the clash of opposition and government members in Parliament, the impact of all these events and the deep imprint are also visible in the Kashmir elections this time.

If we talk about Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, then the political movement in Kashmir is being led by the party under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz. Earlier, there was a PML-N government in Kashmir. At present, there are many strong political factions in Jammu and Kashmir who want to show their political power through elections.

When it comes to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), political experts say that it has been seen before that the party lost the Sialkot seat to the PML-N and a few constituencies to the PPP in Karachi.

Experts say that while the other two parties have taken a stand on the issue, the PPP wants to leave behind the repeated statement that PPP politics is limited to Sindh province.

If we talk about Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, then the political movement in Kashmir is being led by the party under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz. Earlier, there was a PML-N government in Kashmir. At present, there are many strong political factions in Jammu and Kashmir who want to show their political power through elections.

Traditionally in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Islamabad’s ruling party has won elections, and political pundits are once again speculating that the PTI is more likely to win if there is no extraordinary upset. Joining the PTI after some influential politicians split from their parties just weeks before the polls, the opinion is gaining ground.

In general, the people and the media in Pakistan seem indifferent to Kashmiri politics, but the participation of Bilawal Bhutto, Maryam Nawaz and several federal ministers in the election campaign has temporarily aroused interest in the elections. These are going to be the first elections in August 2019 after India abolished the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir.

What is important for the Kashmiri people?

Caste, community, civic issues and development issues are very important for voters in the politics of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The Kashmir dispute and the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir are also mentioned and anti-India speeches are heard, but to a large extent these sentiments are considered election campaign rhetoric.

In this election, Pakistan-administered Kashmir which is called Azad Kashmir in Pakistan, the direction of the opinion of the people there will also come to the fore this time.

Pakistan-administered Kashmir has its own flag, national anthem, legislative assembly, president, prime minister, high court, even its own election commission and tax collection system, but politically and administratively it is linked to and controlled by Pakistan.

In the past, the local party Muslim Conference had political influence, but gradually the influence of mainstream Pakistani parties in Kashmir politics has become more pronounced.

The political system here is a parliamentary democracy with two chambers. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council is the upper house with 15 members. Eight members of the council are nominated from Kashmir and six from Pakistan.

The Presidents of Pakistan and its administered Kashmir and the Prime Minister of AJK are its members while it is chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The lower house, the Legislative Assembly, is directly elected by registered voters over the age of eighteen. The Legislative Assembly has 53 elected members, while eight seats are reserved for women, technocrats, clerics and Kashmiris living abroad. The 53 elected members include 12 refugees living outside Kashmir in Pakistan.

Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and KP will go to the polls on July 25 for refugee seats. As a result, these elections have become very important.

These elections will be held in 33 and 12 refugee constituencies in Kashmir. According to the Election Commission, 2.8 million voters will use their votes in these elections.

Surely the elections in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Indian-administered Kashmir will have any effect on the relations between the two countries?

 

The relationship between Pakistan and India is deeply influenced by the Federal Government of Pakistan and its Establishment and related policies. The same is true of India’s union level government. On both sides, those who are disgusted with the current government and the state will not be allowed to win or come forward.

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