From A Pakistani’s Perspective

Govt, Opposition Parties – Nobody Wants Elections In POJK, But Fear Backlash Of Public Anger

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From A Pakistani’s Perspective

Harees Qader

The holding of local elections in Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir has once again become suspicious. However, the situation is gradually pushing both sides into a dead end. For the past one year, the series of preparations and obstacles has been going on after the orders of the Supreme Court for the holding of local body elections.

Political parties and some sections of the establishment are busy trying to stop the holding of elections, while the policy of pushing the High Judiciary and the Election Commission to hold the local elections has now been adopted.

The Election Commission had called for a force of 33,000 personnel for the elections to be held on November 27.
Pak Govt Says It Cannot Provide Security Force

The federal government of Pakistan has apologized for being unable providing the force through a letter three days ago. In the letter written by the Ministry of Interior of Pakistan, it has been said that in view of the security situation in Pakistan and the long march of a political party, the government of Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir cannot provide the required force for holding local elections. Therefore, the local government and Election Commission should ensure the conduct of elections based on their resources.

In the meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Abdul Rasheed Salhariyaki, the local government was urged to use alternative means for security and to ensure the management of forces so that elections can be held on time. Along with this determination was also expressed that the holding of elections will be ensured in any case.

Local Govt Does Not Have Enough Security

The local government has a police force of around 8,000, out of which a maximum force of 5,000 can be reserved even after appointing minimum personnel to run offices, secretariats and police stations. By means of a force of 5,000, it can be ensured that local body elections are held in only one district. A force of at least 11,000 personnel is required to conduct elections in 3 phases.

Later, the Chief Election Commissioner in a conversation with the media said that holding the elections in a phased manner is also under consideration as Plan B. The local government announced that the force would be called from the provinces of Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan without obtaining information about the constitutional and administrative powers. Apart from this, it was also agreed to contact the Pakistani army present in Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir for the provision of personnel for conducting the elections.

However, the government later learned that even the federal government of Pakistan could be moved to call for forces from the provinces, and the government of Pakistan had already waived the provision of forces.
The Army’s Terms And Conditions

According to the sources, Pakistan Army officers have also sent a message to the government that Pakistan Army personnel can be provided for security outside the polling stations. However, the Pakistan Army personnel will not perform the duties of polling inside the polling stations. The government should organize security forces from its own resources to conduct polling.

The opposition parties have also strongly opposed the calling of security forces from Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, as well as refusing to recognize the holding of phased elections. The opposition parties have demanded that the elections should be held on November 27 and should be held under the supervision of the army.

This demand of the opposition parties has come up at a time when they know that it will not be possible to hold elections by accepting this demand. Thus, all the opposition parties, including the government, want to stop the elections, but no one is able to come forward and announce that they want to stop the local elections. All the political leaderships are taking such steps, through which it is not possible to hold the elections.
Supreme Court Directive For POJK Elections

The Chief Election Commissioner is retiring from service on November 12 this month. Therefore, they also cannot afford to take responsibility for any obstacle in the conduct of elections. The Supreme Court has given strict orders regarding the conduct of elections. However, yesterday the Supreme Court has stopped Member Election Commission Farhat Ali Mir from working in the post. Besides seeking an explanation regarding his appointment despite the injunction from the government, his service record has also been sought. .

It should be remembered that Farhat Ali Mir was appointed as a member of the Election Commission in the previous government. General elections have also been held under his supervision. The decision to stop them from working after all the preparations for holding local elections is also meaningful.

Sources say that all the political parties want to block the way of holding the local body elections. The sections of the establishment who were pressing for the holding of the elections through the Supreme Court are also not happy with the holding of the elections. Therefore, everyone wants to stop the elections, but no one wants to take responsibility.
Candidates, Their Supporters Also Hesitant

In this whole situation, around 13,000 candidates and their supporters are also hesitant regarding the preparations of the election campaign. Once in the past too, after collecting huge fees from the candidates and incurring election expenses, the holding of elections has been postponed. For this reason, the candidates and the voters are not sure that it will be possible to hold the elections this time as well.

A meeting of local body candidates was also held in connection with the obstacles in the way of holding the local body elections, in which efforts to postpone the elections were strongly condemned and a strong response was also threatened against any such decision.
Deadlock Emerging, Elections May Get Postponed

The government, the opposition and the Election Commission are gradually entering a deadlock, avoiding any clear decision in view of the fear of severe public reaction in case of a decision to postpone or postpone the elections. In such a situation, as the days are passing by, the chances of postponing the elections are getting more serious. If such a decision is taken at the height of the election campaign, it will be impossible for the government to control the situation.

Prime Minister Tanveer Ilyas’s claims to ensure the holding of local body elections are also a sign of fear of no-confidence motion being brought against him. Only verbal claims are being made to create a narrative of punishing the no-confidence in the Prime Minister for holding local elections, while he has no alternative plan to provide security yet.

On the other hand, all the members of the assembly of the ruling party also do not want to hold elections. The ruling party is facing its worst defeat in local body elections.
In the interesting phase the situation has entered, the chances of holding the local elections are limited, but the public reaction may be severe. The holding of local elections can have dire consequences for the establishment and political parties, but disruption of elections can manifest itself in state-wide protest movements.

(Harees Qader is Chief Editor, Daily Mujadila, Rawalakot, Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir)

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