AJK Elections – Another Perspective

By Obaid ur Rehman.

General Elections in Azad Jammu Kashmir have made Pakistan Muslim League – N victorious with heavy margin whereas Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) failed badly. PMLN has clinched 31 seats of the Legislative Assembly, PPP and Muslim Conference (MC) got 3 seats each whereas PTI and Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP) could only win one seat. As per AJK Election Commission, one independent candidate has also managed to win the contest. Out of total 29 seats within AJK, PMLN won 22 and grabbed 9 from 12 constituencies located in various parts of Pakistan. Muslim Conference has clinched all its three seats from AJK, PPP bagged 2 seats from AJK and one from Pakistan. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf won both its seats from Pakistan only.

Before the elections, all three major parties PMLN, PPP and PTI went for huge political gatherings and followed the typical procedure of presenting their manifestos and making promises. These parties also criticized their political rivals and tried to prove to be the best among other. Ultimately it was PMLN who finally won by grabbing 31 seats in total whereas other parties like PPP and PTI produced shocking and unexpected results.

It was obvious to some extent that it would be PMLN who will be successful in AJK Elections but even for the party itself, victory with this margin wasn’t expected. PMLN had no idea that they would clean sweep the general elections and would form the government without any kind of coalition. Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, on the other hand, were not at all expecting such a bad result for themselves, with keeping their efforts in view in their election campaigns.

Talking about PMLN, one thing that became prominent is that it is for sure that inspite of all the allegations on PMLN, corruption cases and Panama-Papers’ scandal, the vote bank of PMLN is much stronger to be uprooted by other parties. People yet vote PMLN no matter what this party gets through to, either it is any corruption scandal, money laundering cases or ineffective policies. The game of mindset has always been very difficult to be challenged. This is where opposition parties have faced defeats, particularly PTI, the party that has actually given the slogan of “change”.

Another major aspect of AJK General Elections is that the ruling party has always the key advantage of winning the ballot-battle because of a lot of major reasons. The revenue that is being generated for AJK is always approved and supervised by the ruling party. This is the possibility due to which people of Azad Jammu Kashmir vote for candidates of ruling party so that people of AJK could be benefited through various social reforms and mega projects. That was the same reason due to which people of AJK elected Pakistan People’s Party last time but PPP badly failed to impress and could not deliver in AJK as well.

Talking about Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the series of defeats in various elections, be it General Elections, Bi-Elections, Local Body Elections or AJK General Elections, the infrastructural problems and selection of candidates have made PTI to suffer a lot. No doubt, that PTI was contesting for the first time ever in AJK, but winning only 2 seats, that too from Pakistan, cannot be justified at all. PTI has suffered with the same problem which we have once again witnessed in AJK Elections, i.e. the conflict between number of crowds and no. of voters. PTI always gets successful in gathering a huge number of people in its gatherings, but gets failed to convert its crowd into voters when elections come.

For me, the major reason behind this harsh reality for PTI is that, in political gatherings, people come for Imran Khan to watch him speaking. But when it’s time for elections, people rethink or change their mind when they see a candidate contesting via PTI platform, who himself does not have effective or inspirational political background. Apart from that, insufficient door-to-door campaigning abilities lead PTI to failure in elections’ contest, which has always been a major concern for PTI. People who voted for PTI have now literally started to think and question that why Imran Khan is yet not able to make PTI’s roots stronger and gets easily beaten in elections. Also, voters of Imran Khan strictly criticize the political approach of their leader for being encircled by a lot of such people who have controversial political backgrounds. These defects in PTI have made it to suffer a lot and the process seems to be continued until some bold decisions are not taken by Imran Khan.

As far as PPP is concerned, I must say that by introducing Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as a young gun won’t clean up the mess which PPP’s elders have created in their previous tenure. PPP has not delivered in AJK in its tenure and yet if its leaders were expecting to win a considerable number of seats in these general elections then I guess they were totally wrong. In AJK General Elections, PPP got what that it actually deserved. Now PPP is not ready to accept the results of so called rigged elections, which is completely unjustified. Whereas Imran Khan accepted his defeat, admitted his party’s flaws and vowed to re-examine party’s strategies. He also congratulated PMLN for the victory in elections, a true sportsman spirit has been shown by him, I must say.

Way to go for PML N. Nawaz Shareef and his men have won the contest and now it is time for them to put up sincere efforts to improve the basic living standards of AJK. People of AJK probably do not need mega projects in the valley, all they want are the basic necessities of life, food, health and education. Also PMLN must need to speed up their efforts to actually make Disputed Territory of Kashmir, a part of Pakistan. Everyone hopes that PML N leaders would learn from their mistakes and make people of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir as their priority instead of looting them only.

Obaid ur Rehman

The writer is Islamabad based Journalist / Research Analyst and writes on Politics, Social Issues and Sports.

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