Thursday Jun 10, 2021
The 11th General Elections of Azad Jammu and Kashmir will be held on July 25, the region's election commission announced Thursday.
Chief election commissioner Justice retired Abdul Rasheed Sulehria accompanied by two other members of the commission announced the schedule during a press conference here.
According to the schedule, the nomination papers will be filed by the candidates before the returning officers or before June 6 up till 4 pm while the scrutiny of nomination papers will be conducted the very next day on June 22 from 8am onward and the lists of validly nominated candidates will be publicised on the same day.
The last date for filing appeals before the election commission against the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers by returning officers has been fixed June 27 before 2 pm, while the hearing of appeals will be conducted on 28 to 29th of June and the decisions will be announced on June 30 and 1rst July.
July 2 has been fixed as the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers by the candidates and the list of contesting candidates will be publicized on July 3, the Chief Election commissioner added.
Election symbols to parties and candidates will be allotted on July 4 before 2 pm and the final list of contesting candidates with election symbols will be publicized on the same day while polling will be conducted on July 25 from 8am to 5pm.
The chief election commissioner also announced a code of conduct for contesting parties and candidates allowing them only one big public gathering in each constituency besides banning huge banners placards and posters.
He said the limit of election expenditures had been fixed as Rs5 million for each candidate and the candidates will file the details of expenditures before the election commissioner which he said was empowered to take action against spending above the fixed limit.
He said with the announcement of the schedule, a ban had been imposed on all types of appointments, transfers and postings, announcement, and implementation of new development schemes by the government.
He said the commission will seek the army’s assistance for conducting the elections in a free, fair and independent manner however in case of unavailability of armed forces, civil armed forces and paramilitary forces like Rangers, Frontier corps will be called for the purpose.
CEC said no candidate, including AJK prime minister or ministers and special assistance of the federal government, will be allowed to use official vehicles in the election campaign and strict action will be taken against any violation of the code of conduct under the law.
To a question about the election on 12 seats reserved for Kashmir refugees settled in different areas of Pakistan, he said the commission’s jurisdiction was within the territorial limits of Azad Kashmir and election on these 12 seats will be looked after by-election commission of Pakistan (ECP) and their officers will act as returning officers.
Earlier, the NCOC had suggested postponing the upcoming Azad Jammu And Kashmir election by two months.
In this connection, the NCOC wrote a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner of AJK, stating that due to the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the country, the polls should be delayed.
The letter said that large political gatherings due to elections will lead to the further spread of the potentially deadly virus in the state, adding that the number of coronavirus positive cases are already high therein.
The NCOC said one million residents of AJK could be vaccinated by September 2021.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider on May 25 said that just like by-polls took in Pakistan despite the pandemic, elections in Azad Kashmir should also be conducted and cannot be postponed, Geo News reported.
Addressing a press conference in Muzaffarabad, the AJK prime minister had said that Pakistan and India must not violate the 1957 resolution on the Kashmir issue.
Speaking about Shah Mehmood Qureshi, he said that the solution of Kashmir is "not in the hands of the foreign minister, therefore, he should avoid issuing statements."
He said that the prime minister of Pakistan "did not even know that Azad Kashmir has its own election commission," adding that "PM Imran Khan does not have the authority to introduce electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Azad Kashmir."