July 2006 News

2.4m voters to use right of franchise today in AJK

10 July 2006
The Nation
Our Correspondent

Mirpur: All is set for holding of elections to 41seat Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu Kashmir on Tuesday (today) in all 29 constituencies of eight districts of AJK and in 12 constituencies meant for Jammu Kashmir refugees dwelling in various parts of Pakistan. It would be the eighth legislature of AJK to be elected on direct adult franchise basis through the polls.. Over 2.4 million registered voters in all 41 constituencies will move for using their right of vote to elect the assembly for the next five-year constitutional period. The election campaign by the candidates for Tuesday ballot was ended on the midnight of Sunday. July 9 was the last day for the election campaign by all the political parties and independent candidates contesting the election, in line with the code of conduct set by the election commission. Army as well as paramilitary troops and police have been posted on all polling stations in all the electoral constituencies to assist the civil administration and police to maintain complete peace and order during balloting on Tuesday, official sources said. Mirpur Deputy Commissioner Ghulam Bashir Mughal told The Nation here Monday that the administration has made fool-proof security arrangements for maintaining complete peace and order to ensure holding of free, fair and transparent elections. He said in Mirpur district, besides army and paramilitary troops, railway police and frontier constabulary would be deputed at every polling station in each electoral constituency along with local police to maintain order during the polling. He informed a four-pronged strategy has been devised by the government in this regard.  Under the plan, army and police would be deployed at all sensitive polling stations and Quick Reaction Force of the army will patrol the streets in their military vehicles carrying at least 15 armed soldiers. Besides this, at least 150 army men will patrol the roads particularly near the polling stations to assist the paramilitary troops and the civil administration to maintain complete law and order.  The patrolling will be continued the whole day. Moreover, the armed Mobile Vigilance Army teams comprising at least eight army vehicles equipped with latest means of communications will traverse through each constituency with at least a dozen armed soldiers aboard each vehicle. Under the strategy, District Centres of Army will be set up to supervise the patrolling of the army. These centres will also be set up in various tehsil headquarters particularly following the conditions of the sensitivity of the polling stations of the concerned constituency. The Deputy Commissioner said that the armed troops have already started patrolling in each constituency from Monday to supervise and monitor the arrangements for the polling.  APP adds:  All arrangements have been finalised to elect the AJK Legislature in a free, fair and transparent manner. It may be mentioned here that it will be the 8th AJK Legislative Assembly to be elected through polling on direct adult franchise basis, the first Legislative Assembly was elected in 1970 under the presidential form of government with the then president (Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan) elected directly. The 1970 Assembly House was comprising 28 members only including 16 from AJK and 12 from Jammu Kashmir refugees dwelling in Pakistan.  The second assembly came into existence following dissolution of government of Muslim Conference and fresh elections were held in AJK with Muslim Conference boycotting the polls. Through the polls to the second state legislature, the PPP- AJK came to the assembly, formed its government under the leadership of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan as President and Khan Abdul Hameed Khan as the first Prime Minister of Azad Jammu Kashmir.  The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh Legislative Assemblies formed respectively through the elections held in 1985, 1990, 1991, 1996 and 2001. Except the fourth AJK legislature elected in 1990 with late Raja Mumtaz Hussain Rathore as leader of the house-Prime Minister with Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan again as President, all other four assemblies elected in 1985, 1991, 1996 and 2001 completed their respective five-year constitutional terms successfully. A total of 2.4 million registered electorates would move to a total of 3,746 polling stations, set up in all 41 constituencies, to exercise their right of vote to elect the AJK Legislative Assembly for the next five-year constitutional term.  AJK Legislative Assembly is the lower house of the AJK Parliament. Whereas, it may be added, Azad Jammu Kashmir Council is the upper house of the AJK Parliament which is elected by the members of the AJK Legislative Assembly.  A total of 5,442 polling booths have been set up in all 3,746 polling stations. Each polling station has been set up for 500 voters for the convenience of the electorates to exercise their right of franchise in a free, fair, independent and peaceful atmosphere. According to the figures available from the AJK Election Commission a total of 369 candidates including from 17 political parties as well as independent candidates are in the run in the polls to reach to 41-member Legislative Assembly. Out of a total of 2419,598 registered voters, 1839,530 voters including 966,871 male and 872,659 female voters existed in all 41 constituencies of AJK Legislative Assembly. A total of 545,533 registered voters, including 300,643 male and 244,890 female voters, would use their right of vote for six Legislative Assembly seats meant for Pakistan- based Jammu region refugees and others. Similarly, a total of 34,535 registered voters including 18,546 male and 15,989 female voters, would exercise their right to elect their representatives to six seats in the legislature. Out of a total of 3,746 polling stations comprising 5,442 polling booths, 2,634 polling stations with 3,670 polling booths have been set up in 29 electoral constituencies across AJK, 987 polling stations comprising 1,616 polling booths have been established to facilitate the voters for using their right of polls in six constituencies of the refugees and Jammu region and others dwelling in various parts of Pakistan and 125 polling stations comprising 156 polling booths set up for the voters hailing from six constituencies of Pakistan-based Kashmir valley refugees to use their right of franchise to elect their representatives to the state legislature. Voters shall have to produce their respective original national identity cards for their identification at the polling stations for casting vote. Besides the national identity card, the voters can also prove their identity by showing their respective driving licence, passport, domicile or state subject certificate in original. The polling will be held on July 11, 2006 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm without any pause in all the constituencies. The official final results of the elections will be announced by the AJK Chief Election Commissioner Mr Justice Muhammad Riaz Akhter Chaudhry from the central control room set up at Kashmir House Islamabad. After receiving the polling results from the concerned returning officers of all the constituencies, all the District Returning Officers would immediately despatch the polling results to the central control room at Kashmir House Islamabad for official announcement and display simultaneously by the AJK Election Commission. It may be added that the AJK Legislative Assembly is originally comprised 49 members. These include 41, elected through direct polling on adult franchise basis. Whereas remaining reserved eight seats including five meant for women and one each for ulema- mashaikh, overseas Kashmiris and technocrats are filled in, later on, by 41 members elected through direct vote of general voters. 


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