MUZAFFARABAD/LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Sardar Ziaul Qamar on Thursday came out the winner in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s (AJK) LA-15 by-election, the unofficial result suggested. After the counting of 189 polling stations, Zia is leading with 25,755 votes, leaving behind PMLN’s Mushtaq Minhas. Minhas has secured 20,485 votes so far. The seat fell vacant after the AJK High Court disqualified former AJK PM Sardar Tanvir Ilyas, who had won the 2018 election with 20,010 votes. Eighteen candidates are contesting the election, including PTI’s colonel (retd) Zamir and others.
The number of registered voters is 101,145 with male voters standing at 53,107 and female voters at 48,038. PPP Co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari congratulated PPP candidate Ziaul Qamar for winning the by-election in LA-15, Bagh, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, by defeating the former minister and PMLN candidate Mushtaq Minhas. He thanked the people of AJK for showing trust in Pakistan Peoples Party. The seat fell vacant after the AJK High Court disqualified former AJK Prime Minister Sardar Tanvir Ilyas. Eighteen candidates were in the contest, including PTI’s colonel (retd) Zamir. Meanwhile, PMLN lawmaker Hina Pervaiz Butt accused the PPP of rigging in the by-election for the seat that was vacated following the disqualification of former Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister Tanveer Ilyas by a high court in April. “People from the PPP have been caught red-handed while rigging in Kashmir,” she tweeted along with a video, shortly after the polling concluded.
In the video, a man is heard saying that he was at a polling station where another man, whom he did not identify, had stamped ballot papers in a bid to rig the elections. “The entire polling station has been grabbed… Ziaul Qamar’s (PPP’s candidate) people first verbally abused the presiding officer and occupied the polling station… The Rangers here outside but not doing anything and Zia Qamar is sitting here,” he is heard saying. Sharing another video on Twitter — in which a man is counting ballot papers that he said were “evidence” — Butt said, “The PPP has started stamping [ballot papers] in Kashmir as well. Rigging is not acceptable.” Separately, another PMLN leader, Attaullah Tarar, claimed that his party’s candidate had a “clear lead” in the by-election. “There are reports of rigging, [but] God willing, the PML-N will win. It is not possible that polling is completed 80-90 percent at some stations and 30-39pc at others,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, PPP’s Faisal Karim Kundi congratulated his party on Twitter, saying, “Unofficially, Ziaul Qamar of the PPP is winning with a big margin in the by-election in Bagh, Kashmir.” Official results of the by-election in AJK’s Bagh-II constituency are yet to be released. The PPP and PMLN, which are allies in the Centre, are among several others vying for the seat that fell vacant after Ilyas was disqualified over contempt. Ziaul Qamar is contesting the election on the PPP ticket, the PMLN has fielded Mushtaq Minhas, a former journalist who joined the Nawaz Sharif-led party in 2016.