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International News
Pak PM Khan's party wins most seats in PoK legislative elections marred by irregularities, violence
 
Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is set to form the next government in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as it emerged as the largest political party in the legislative assembly elections in the region which was marred by allegations of irregularities and violence, local media reported, citing unofficial results.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) has won 23 seats while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was second with eight seats and the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) secured just six seats, the state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

Muslim Conference (MC) and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP) were successful in one seat each.

However, Geo TV reported that PTI won 25 seats, followed by PPP with nine and PML-N six. One seat each was won by Muslim Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Party.

Thus, PTI got a simple majority to form the government without support of any other party. It is for the first time that it will form a government in PoK.

Traditionally, the ruling party in the country wins the elections in Pok.

The assembly has a total of 53 members but only 45 are directly elected, while five seats are reserved for women and three are meant for the technocrats.

The 45 members directly elected included 33 residents of PoK and 12 refugees' who came over the years from Kashmir and settled in various cities of Pakistan.

India has previously slammed Pakistan for its decision to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and said any action to alter the status of the militarily occupied region has no legal basis.

PTI Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, who is the front-runner candidate for the 'Prime Minister' of the region, won from his seat. Former 'Prime Minister' and PML-N leader Raja Farooq Haider retained his seat. Another ex-'Prime Minister' and chief of Muslim Conference, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, also won.

A total of 587 candidates contested the elections in 33 constituencies of various PoK districts and 121 candidates in 12 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir refugees settled in Pakistan.

Pakistan's Opposition parties, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), have accused Khan's party of "rigging" the elections held on Sunday.

There is proof of systematic rigging in the election, PPP's vice-president Senator Sherry Rehman.

She said PTI workers attacked the PPP worker during polling time, while police had uprooted a camp belonging to her party. "There is a clear difference between the voter lists of several polling stations, she said.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, in a statement, claimed that to rig the election the PTI "goons" attacked her party's workers in Gujranwala's Alipur Chatha area.

"PTI has been allowed to engage in hooliganism with complete liberty," she said.

However, the region's Election Commission rejected the allegations and said that the polls were held in a fair and peaceful manner.

The chief election commission, Abdul Rashid Sulehria, told the media that he was satisfied with the election process.

At least two PTI workers were shot and killed in clashes with PPP activists at a polling station in Charhoi area of Kotli district on Sunday. The two men were shot dead by unidentified persons, police said.

Also, at least four soldiers were killed while three soldiers and a civilian driver were injured when their vehicle plunged down a ravine off a curvy mountain road in Laswa area of the region, the military said in a statement on Sunday.

The soldiers were part of army troops deployed to help maintain peace during the elections.

In another incident, five police constables were injured after Jamaat-e-Islami activists attacked them with batons at the Dhal Chakhya polling station of Jhelum valley district.

A PML-N candidate Choudhary Muhammad Ismail Gujjar kicked up a storm as he threatened on Sunday that he would "seek India's help" if the local administration failed to address his concerns after his party's polling agents were removed from a polling station, the Geo News reported.

Following their exit from the polling station, the agents got into a heated argument with the deputy commissioner after which the polling process was halted there.

He, however, later clarified on media that his statement was directed towards the administration.

Region's Secretary Election Commission Muhammad Ghazanfar Khan claimed that the elections were held in a free, fair and transparent manner.

He expressed satisfaction over the law and order and appreciated the performance of the police and the Pakistan Army for ensuring the peaceful conduct of the elections, in which there were 32 lakh people eligible to vote to elect 45 members of the assembly for a five-year term.

The last general election for PoK Legislative Assembly was held in July 2016 and won by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

In this election, the PTI nominated candidates for all the 45 constituencies, while PML-N and PPP each issued tickets to candidates for 44 seats.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the radical Islamist party which was banned in April by the Pakistan government for its violent activities, contested on 40 seats. The TLP was not de-registered by the Election Commission of Pakistan even after the ban, enabling it to take part in the elections.

Apart from the ticket holders of different political parties, a total of 261 independent candidates were also in the race for the 33 constituencies in PoK, while 56 independents were running for the 12 refugees' seats.


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