AJK opposition wants probe into ‘rigging’
10 August 2006
Islamabad: The opposition in Azad Jammu Kashmir on Thursday demanded setting up of an independent authority to investigate the allegations of rigging and manipulation of results in the recently-held elections. Talking to editors, columnists and senior journalists, chief of the Jammu Kashmir People’s Muslim League Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry said the polls should be declared null and void and an interim government should be put in place to hold fresh elections if the proposed authority upholds the charges. “Otherwise how can the people who are themselves deprived of their right to vote can advocate for the cause of those struggling to achieve their right to self-determination on the other side of the Line of Control,” he asked. He alleged that district offices of some intelligence agencies had operated like the offices of political parties. He said the officers of these agencies met politicians and other notable figures, urging them to support Muslim Conference. He claimed that offers were made and warnings issued to achieve the desired results. He said political figures and polling staff were harassed by the agencies, results were changed overnight and amounts distributed among voters. “Where should we go to challenge the victory of angels who wrote a sordid saga of electoral fraud.” Barrister Sultan said ballot papers had been distributed among the candidates and their supporters before the polling in Muzaffarabad, Dhirkot, Palandari, Sansa and Kotli. He pointed out that Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan had obtained only 12,794 votes in 2001 elections from LA-13 (Bagh 1), but his son Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan got around 22,000 votes in July 2006 polls. He said various other candidates of Muslim Conference which enjoyed the overt support of the centre secured extraordinarily high votes as compared to the 2001 polls. He said President General Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain held meetings with Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan and his son to give a message to the administration and others concerned that the Muslim Conference should be supported. He said the minister of Kashmir affairs addressed an election rally in Bandi Abbaspur. He called for abolishing of the Kashmir affairs ministry after the direct role played by the minister to influence the AJK polls. He said the method of elections to the 12 refugee seats in Pakistan needed to be modified to ensure that the federal and provincial governments could not dish out the seats to their favourite candidates. He said Muslim Conference had been brought into power under a plan and the purpose behind it may be a plot for division of Kashmir. He said huge funds for reconstruction of quake-hit parts of Azad Kashmir and Mangla dam upraising project could be another reason for it.