The heated canvassing in the closely watched Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) election campaign wrapped up on Friday with the penultimate round of the election process – voting – just hours away.
Deemed as the consequential moment for the state, the polling would take place amid ramped-up security.
More than 700 candidates from 32 political and religious parties are contesting for the 45 general seats.
Out of the rest eight reserved seats, five are for women and three seats, one each for religious scholars, technocrats, and overseas Kashmiris. The members for these seats are nominated after the elections.
Of the 45 general seats, 12 seats are reserved for Kashmiri refugees who had migrated from the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in 1947 and 1965 and are settled in various parts of Pakistan.
Therefore, in the 10 districts of AJK, elections will take place on 33 seats only.
In view of the apprehensions expressed by political parties, the polling process would take place amid strict security measures.
Nearly 40,000 security personnel have been entrusted with the task to guard 5,123 polling stations, of which 1,209 have been declared “sensitive” while 826 stations “most sensitive”.
Accordingly, the AJK government has also granted magisterial powers to 250 officers apart from regular magistrates and presiding officers in a bid to maintain law and order during the polling day.
All major political parties are contesting. However, the fight is triangular as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are the strongest parties followed by All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference (AJKMC) and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP).