- AJK PM or PM’s Office have no role in preparation of voter lists: Raja Farooq Haider’s spokesperson.
- AJK Election Commission an empowered, independent body, he says.
- “Bilawal may not have been briefed properly by his party.”
The spokesperson for Raja Farooq Haider, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister, has clarified that the AJK government or the prime minister’s office has no bearing on the preparation of voter lists.
The spokesperson’s comments came after a statement by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who a day earlier, had accused the federal government of wishing to influence the AJK elections.
The spokesperson estimated that Bilawal may not have been properly briefed by his party regarding the regulations that pertain to the elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
He said that the Election Commission of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is an empowered and independent body and has been busy preparing the voter lists for months now.
The spokesperson explained that prior to the final voter lists, often times the existing lists are published.
According to the spokesperson, Bilawal made an “uninformed” statement and if he has any reservations, there are legal avenues for him to pursue the matter.
The 11th General Elections of Azad Jammu and Kashmir will be held on July 25, the region’s election commission announced on Thursday.
According to the schedule announced by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Abdul Rasheed Sulehria, the nomination papers will be filed by the candidates before the returning officers on or before June 6 up till 4pm while the scrutiny of nomination papers will be conducted the very next day am onwards 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 for June 27 before 2pm, while the hearing of appeals will be conducted from June 28 to 29, with the decisions announced on June 30 and July 1.
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 publicised on July 3, the chief election commissioner said.
Election symbols to parties and candidates will be allotted on July 4 before 2pm and the final list of contesting candidates with election symbols will be publicised 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. Huge banners, placards and posters have been banned.
He said the limit of election expenditures had been fixed at 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.
Sulehria 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 the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and their officers will act as returning officers.