Islamabad : A tough triangular competition is expected among major political parties during the 11th general elections for the legislative assembly in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to be held on Sunday.
There are over 3.2 million eligible voters who can elect 45 members of the assembly for a five-year term.
India has previously slammed Pakistan for its decision to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and said any action to alter the status of the militarily-occupied region has no legal basis.
The assembly has total 53 members but only 45 are directly elected, while five seats are reserved for women and three are meant for the technocrats.
A tough triangular competition involving Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is expected.
The PTI has nominated candidates for all the 45 constituencies, while PML-N and PPP each issued tickets to candidates for 44 seats.
Two other parties including All J&K Muslim Conference and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have given tickets for 42 and 40 constituencies respectively and are among the major contenders.
The TLP was banned in April this year by the Pakistan government for its violent activities but it has not been de-registered by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), enabling it to take part in the elections.
Among other parties, Jamaat-e-Islami has nominated 28 candidates; J&K United Movement 16 nominees; Jammu Kashmir People’s Party 17; JK Liberation League 12; Muttahida Qaumi Movement 11; J&K Awami Tehreek 11 and the Pakistan People’s Party (Shaheed Bhutto) 10 nominees.
Thirty-three constituencies are located in PoK, while 12 seats are for refugees settled in different cities of Pakistan.
Apart from the ticket holders of different political parties, a total of 261 independent candidates are also in the race for the 33 constituencies in PoK, while 56 independents are vying for the 12 refugees’ seats.
Elaborate security measures have been taken and army troops deployed to maintain peace during the elections.
The decision to deploy the Pakistan Army was taken after the regional election commission formally asked for it to help in security matters, the Army said in a statement.
“Army troops will be deployed on Quick Reaction Force mode from 22 July to 26 July as per article 245 of the Constitution,” it said.
It further said that local police, assisted by LEAS (Law Enforcement Agencies) from other provinces and Civil Armed Forces, including (paramilitary) Rangers and FC (Frontier Corps), will be employed for smooth and peaceful conduct of the elections.
The electorate in the past often voted for the party which was ruling in Islamabad, making the PTI a favourite. But it faces a serious challenge from PML-N and PPP – both claiming to carry the day if the election were held in a fair manner.