Fresh elections in Azad Kashmir sought

28 March 2008
The Dawn

Muzaffarabad: Reiterating doubts over the transparency of July 2006 elections for Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, the main opposition Peoples Party has demanded fresh polls under an independent and impartial election commission. “The sanctity of ballot was trampled in AJK under the umbrella of dictatorship in Pakistan and therefore my party seeks fresh elections in the state. This is not the demand of my party alone but of every citizen who was betrayed in the July 2006 elections,” said PPAJK president Chaudhry Abdul Majeed MLA at “Meet the Press” programme here on Friday. Flanked by party’s secretary general Chaudhry Latif Akbar MLA, district president Mohammad Hanif Awan MLA and other leaders, he said the honourable way for the AJK government was to step down and pave way for fresh, free and fair elections. Accusing the (acting) chief election commissioner in the AJK of being partisan, he said he should also resign so that an impartial person could assume this office. Mr Majeed made it clear that his party was opposed to the intervention of the federal government in the AJK and instead wanted it to remain impartial. “But our right to form a government of our choice which was usurped by the previous autocratic regime of Mr Musharraf should be returned to us,” he said. In response to a question, he asserted that the PPAJK would create such circumstances in AJK as would leave no option with the government but to call fresh polls. “We may again sit on the opposition benches but we cannot accept the outcome of July 2006 elections wherein the opinion of people was bulldozed by an individual,” he said, referring to President Musharraf. The PPAJK president praised the incumbent army chief “for preventing a possible showdown between his institution and the public” by sending a loud and clear message across the board that the armed forces would stay away from politics. “We also call upon him to facilitate free and fair elections in the AJK.” Listing right to self determination of Kashmiris, rehabilitation of earthquake survivors and Mangla dam victims as the three most important issues, Mr Majeed alleged that the present AJK government had failed to deliver on each count. He maintained that talks should have been held with India under the framework of right to self determination “but Mr Musharraf did otherwise only to prolong his rule.” “The Muslim Conference supports the policies of Mr Musharraf because it has a history of being stipendiary of the establishment in the name of Kashmir,” he said. The PPAJK chief said though India and Pakistan had held talks on Kashmir and were about to resume the process but nothing could be achieved unless the Kashmiris were also taken on board. While castigating the government for “failing to mitigate the sufferings of the quake survivors” he said the institutions of Erra and Serra were “white elephant” and needed to be held accountable for their luxuries. “Rehabilitation of survivors was a big challenge but the present regime accepted the challenge of corruption, sharing the ill-gotten money with those who had brought them to power,” he alleged. He claimed that the new government would take up the issue of earthquake affectees rehabilitation as a priority with the co- chairperson of PPP Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani when they would visit Muzaffarabad. Regarding the Mangla dam affectees, he said the promises made to them had not been honoured. “The money meant for their rehabilitation is being lavishly spent on non-developmental activities and outsiders are being preferred over local educated youths in jobs in the project,” he alleged.