SRINAGAR: In Kashmir, on the other side of the LoC, 701 candidates are in the fray for the 45 general assembly seats in the polls scheduled for July 25, reports appearing in Pakistan media said. The assembly has 53 berths including eight nominated – 5 women, one from the Ulama community, one from technocracy and one from the diaspora.
The unicameral assembly in Muzaffarabad has two types of seats – one within the territory of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PAK) and another seat of seats for refugees, spread across Pakistan. Only 33 berths are within the PaK and the rest of 12 are spread across mainland Pakistan. Sp 579 candidates are in the fray for 33 seats and 122 for the remaining 12. It elects its members every five years.
There are 4 assembly segments in Mirpur, three in Bhimber, six in Kotli district four seats of Bagh and Haveli districts, six seats of Poonch and Sudhnoti districts, two seats of Neelum district and seven seats of Muzaffarabad and Jhelum valley districts. In mainland Pakistan, six seats each are for refugees from Kashmir and Jammu.
For the 33 seats within the Pak territory, the total electorate is of the order of 28,17090 and for the 12 seats in the Pakistani mainland, the electorate is around 4,02441 for 12 berths.
In the July 16, 2016 elections, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) was able to get 31 of the (then) 41 berths and managing eight other votes from the nominated lot later. Pakistan People’s Party had three and Imran Khan’s party had two seats and the balance berths had gone to small local players and independents. This led Raja Farooq Haider to become the Prime Minister.
This time, however, Imran Khan-led PTI is making serious inroads. It has various ministers actually camping in PaK forcing the local election commission to issue veiled warnings to them against influencing the voters. Even within PTI, there is a local leadership issue between Barrister Sultan Mehmood (earlier with PPP) and the greenhorn millionaire Sardar Tanveer Ilyas.