Friday Jul 23 2021

AJK election: Here are the eight constituencies to watch

AJK election: Here are the eight constituencies to watch

The 45 general constituencies of the Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir will be up for grabs on Sunday, when its voters head to the polls after five years.

All three major political parties of Pakistan – the ruling PTI, the PPP and PML-N – are in the fray. The last time AJK held a general election was in 2016, when the then-center-ruling PML-N formed government.

Who will win this time? While the final results will be announced on Sunday, political commentators and experts are keeping a close eye on these eight hotly-contested constituencies:

LA-3 Mirpur

Contestants: PTI’s Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary vs PML-N’s Chaudhary Muhammad Saeed

Background: In 2016 Saeed defeated Chaudhry from this constituency with just 3,000 votes. But later Saeed was declared ineligible by a court and by-elections had to be held. In the by-polls, Chaudhry won and was elected member of the legislative assembly.

On Sunday, the two arch-rivals — Saeed and Chaudhry — will face off again.

Problems of the constituency: Construction of Rathoa Haryam Bridge in Mirpur, clean drinking water and load shedding.

LA 7 Bhimber

Contestants: PTI’s Chaudhary Anwar ul Haq vs PML-N’s Chaudhary Tariq Farooq

Background: Former speaker, Anwar ul Haq, who recently joined PTI is up against senior minister Tariq Farooq, who has emerged successful from this constituency thrice. In 2016, Farooq trounced Haq with over 2,000 votes. At that time Haq was an independent candidate.

Problems of the constituency: Unemployment, clean drinking water, no gas, no proper health facility.

LA 10 Kotli

Contestants: PPP’s Muhammad Yasin vs Muslim Conference’s Farooq Sikandar vs PTI’s Malik Muhammad Yousaf

Background: This is a city constituency, where former senior minister and leader of opposition Muhammad Yasin is contesting for the first time. He is also a candidate from his home constituency. His main rival is former prime minister and president Farooq Sikander Hayat’s son, Farooq Sikandar, who was elected as MNA from this constituency in 2016 on a PMLN ticket.

Meanwhile, Yousaf has previously contested on a PMLN ticket twice and has now switched to PTI.

Problems of the constituency: Clean drinking water, no proper sewerage system, unemployment

LA 14 Bagh

Contestants: Former prime minister and head of the Muslim Conference's Sardar Ateeq Ahmed Khan, vs PTI’s Major Lateef Khaleeq

Background: Khaleeq was previously in the Jamaat-e-Islami. This constituency is considered a winning constituency for the Muslim Conference, as in 2016, Ahmed Khan won with over 30,000 votes while Khaleeq came in third.

Problems of the constituency: The biggest problem is water, since the constituency is in a mountainous area, there are no natural springs. More than 100 schools are running without proper structures, and the roads are in poor condition.

LA 15 Bagh

Contestants: PTI’s Tanveer Ilyas vs PML-N's Mushtaq Minhas vs Muslim Conference’s Raja Yaseen

Background: Ilyas is contesting for the first time, but he is backed by a powerful and notable group of the PTI. He is also being named as a possible candidate for prime minister of AJK. Another advantage to Ilyas has been the resignation of JI’s Abdul Rashid Turabi in favor of Ilyas.

Minhas is a former journalist and Yaseen was previously a senior minister in the assembly.

Problems of the constituency: Roads are dilapidated, load shedding, lack of education and health facilities, unemployment

LA 21 Poonch and Sudhnoti

Contestants: PPP’s Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan vs Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Party’s Sardar Hassan Ibrahim

Background: Hasan Ibrahim is the grandson of Sardar Ibrahim, the first president of AJK. In 2016, Khalid Ibrahim won this constituency. But after his death, by-elections were held where his son, Hassan Ibrahim, came out victorious. Ibrahim’s rival this time is Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, the former prime minister of AJK, who won this constituency in 2011 and 2006. Another contestant in the race is PTI’s Nayyar Ayub Khan.

Problems of the constituency: The roads are broken and unrepaired, preventing locals from traveling to far flung areas and there are no proper health facilities.

LA 25 Neelum Valley

Contestants: PMLN’s Shah Ghulam Qadir vs PTI Haji Gul Khandan

Background: Shah Ghulam Qadir is the current speaker of the AJK legislative assembly. Qadir is also PML-N’s nominee for prime minister of AJK, if PML-N forms government. Gul Khandan, who left the Muslim Conference to join the PTI, came in second during the 2016 polls.

Problems of the constituency: Being close to the Line of Control the area faces shelling, roads are in bad condition, there are barely any communication facilities.

LA 32 Muzaffarabad

Contestants: PML-N’s Sardar Farooq Haider vs PPP’s Shahibzada Muhammad Ashfaq Zafar

Background: AJK’s Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider has won this constituency in 2011 and 2016. But in 2006, he lost this constituency with only 800 votes to the father of Muhammad Ashfaq Zafar.

Problems of the constituency: The hospitals are far and inaccessible, very few schools have buildings and unemployment is a concern.