PPP poised to gain simple majority
By Tariq Naqash
MUZAFFARABAD: Pakistan People’s Party AJK appeared to have gained simple majority in the AJK Legislative Assembly as unofficial results for 36 of the 37 constituencies for which elections were held on Sunday poured in at late night.
But a private TV channel reported that the PPP leadership had decided to invite the Muslim Conference to form a broad-based government.
According to the channel, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani contacted AJK Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, the chief of the Muslim Conference.
Unofficial results showed that of the 29 constituencies in the AJK territory, the PPP had either won or was leading by a sizeable margin in 18, followed by the MC which had clinched victory in four and the PML-N which emerged victorious in four constituencies (two of them won by its chief organiser Raja Farooq Haider).
One independent candidate also emerged victorious, whereas results in one constituency, LA 17, Poonch-I, were being awaited. According to sources, the situation was tense in the constituency.
In the eight constituencies of Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan, the PML-N won in four, PPP in two and MC in one. An independent candidate also won a seat.
Polling in four constituencies of Kashmiri refugees has been postponed.
Prominent among the winners were Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan and former premiers Sardar Yaqoob Khan, Barrister Sultan Mahmood, Raja Farooq Haider.
PPAJK’s President Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, senior vice-president Chaudhry Mohammad Yasin, secretary general Chaudhry Latif Akbar were also among the winners. However, the defeat was of the party’s vice-president Khawaja Farooq Ahmed was shocking who had fallen victim to intrigues by some of leaders of his own party.
Losers included AJKLA speaker and PPAJK candidate Chaudhry Anwaarul Haq who was defeated by PML-N’s Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, despite having received the backing of AJK President Raja Zulqarnain Khan.
PML-N organising committee’s secretary Shah Ghulam Qadir, who had chosen Neelum Valley to contest this time, instead of his previous constituency in Rawalpindi, lost to PPP candidate Mian Abdul Waheed.
Elections were held amid serious objections raised over flawed electoral rolls and inadequate security arrangements which resulted in violence in several areas, leaving at least two persons dead and scores others wounded.
The Election Commission had postponed on Saturday polling in three of the 12 constituencies for Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan, citing law and order problems and a controversy over nearly 500 votes.
On Sunday, polling in another Kashmiri constituency in Lahore — LA 37 Valley-II — was also postponed by Chief Election Commissioner Khawaja Mohammad Saeed in the wake of serious law and order problems.
Elsewhere, polling began at 8 am but turnout which was low in the early hours picked up in the afternoon.
However, voters and polling agents were heard literally cursing the EC over flawed electoral rolls, which caused inconvenience not only to them but also to polling staff and led to altercations.
In many areas, the lists provided to presiding officers were either incomplete or did not match with the ones held by supporters of candidates outside polling stations.
Although polling in urban areas was by and large peaceful, severe clashes and even exchanges of firing were reported from rural areas, leading to suspension of polling in many stations. Most of the quarrels took place between supporters of PPP and PML-N.
In LA 25, Muzaffarabad-II, a man identified as Mohammad Bashir, reportedly a supporter of independent candidate Chaudhry Shahzad, died in hospital after having suffered stab wounds. Another man was injured in the clash. Police arrested five people from the area.
Another casualty was reported from LA 6, Bhimber-II, in an exchange of fire between PPP and PML-N workers for nearly an hour. The deceased identified as Raja Iftikhar was said to be a PML-N supporter.
However, AJK IGP Dr Tarik Ahmed Khokhar said he was ‘extremely satisfied’ over security arrangements made for the polls.
“Barring a few incidents, the whole process remained extremely peaceful, notwithstanding fears about large-scale violence,” he told Dawn.
EC Secretary Mohammad Younas Mughal told newsmen that polling in the four constituencies of Kashmiri refugees where election had been postponed for different reasons would be held next month.
Our Correspondent adds from Sialkot: PML-N candidate Chaudhry Muhammad Ishaq won by defeating PPP’s Chaudhry Shaukat Wazir Ali in LA-32 Jammu III, Sialkot.
According to unofficial results, Mr Ishaq bagged 24,407 votes against Mr Wazir Ali’s 18,101.
Muslim Conference candidate Sahibzada Hamid Raza got 7,510 votes.
Our correspondent adds from Attock: PML-N candidates were leading against their opponents in LA-35 Jammu & others-6 and Kashmir Vally-5 constituencies of Attock district.
EC spokesman for Attock Syed Zaigham Altaf told newsmen that according to unofficial results, PML-N candidate Raja Muhammad Saddique begged 1,475 votes while PPP aspirant Amin Chughtai got 647 and Sardar Abdul Razzak of the Muslim Conference 30 votes in LA-35.
According to unofficial results, of the 100 votes cast in Kashmir Vally-5, PML-N candidate Bashir Ahmed secured 42 votes while PPP candidate Abdul Salam Butt bagged 40.
Our Peshawar Bureau adds: A scuffle took place between supporters of the PML-N and PPP in the lone polling station in Peshawar set up for the LA-35, Jammu 6 constituency.
No untoward incident took place in other parts of the province.
Polling for LA-41 has been postponed.
Our Staff Reporter adds from Lahore: The AJK Election Commission postponed polling for LA-37 constituency after receiving reports of brawls between PPP and PML-N activists at various polling stations set up in the provincial metropolis.
Clashes were reportedly from polling stations in Qila Luxman Singh, Government Chishtia High School, Islampura, and Home Economics College in Misri Shah.
In Faisalabad, a clash between supporters of PML-N and an independent candidate left two people injured during polling for LA-38 constituency.
In Gujrat, police registered cases against 28 PML-N workers during polling for LA 34 in close contest between a PPP-PML-Q nominee and a PML-N candidate.