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Karachi

July 21, 2016
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Kashmiris in Sindh to vote for two AJK seats today

Karachi

July 21, 2016

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Karachi

The elections for two seats of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly reserved for Kashmiris living in Sindh will be held on Thursday (today) and tough contest is expected between the major political parties - the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

There are two AJKLA seats - LA-30 and the LA-36 - reserved for the Kashmiri Diaspora in Sindh and some parts of other provinces.

However, political parties mainly focus on Karachi because most voters of the two constituencies live in the city. There 22 candidates contesting for the two seats. 

Polling will start at 8:00am in the morning and will continue till 5:00pm.

All arrangements have been finalised to hold the elections in a peaceful manner.

At least 49 polling stations have been set up in different parts of the city, where over 13,000 voters will cast their votes.  Army personnel will be deputed inside and outside the polling stations, according to the security plan.

Of the total 41 seats of AJKLA, 12 have been reserved for Kashmiris living in different parts of Pakistan.  

LA-30

The LA-30 (Jammu- I) is a constituency reserved for Kashmiris belonging to the AJK and it comprises the Sindh, Balochistan and five divisions of the Punjab province. But most of the voters are in registered in Karachi. The total registered voters in this constituency are now 26,198, which have been decreased after the omission of fake votes.

In the last polls held in July 2011, MQM candidate Tahir Khokhar had won the LA-30 by bagging 30,620 votes, defeating PML-N candidate Abdul Rasheed Mirza, who had secured 18,301 votes.

However, this time the MQM has given its ticket to Muhammad Mansha, a senior party member.

The PML-N has chosen Nasir Hussain Dar, a candidate from Lahore, instead of Karachi. His sister Kiran Dar is a PML-N MNA elected on reserved seat for women.

Chaudary Mir Haider, the Sindh zone president of the PPP AJK, is contesting for the constituency on the PPP’s ticket while prominent Kashmiri figure Sardar Maqsood Zaman is the PTI’s candidate for the LA-30.

LA-36

The LA-36 (Kashmir Valley –I) is a constituency reserved for Kashmiris from Indian-administrated Kashmir who emigrated in the 1940s and 1950s.

After removing fake votes, now there are 4,318 voters in the constituency now, including over 3,700 in Karachi alone and the rest in the rural districts of Sindh and Quetta.

MQM candidate Saleem Butt had won the seat last time. But party has introduced a new face for the seat now, Abdul Rehman Gassi, a member of the Muttahida Organising Committee and former member of the party’s Kashmir Committee.

The PML-N has fielded Muhammad Naeem Khan, the Sindh zone president of the PML-N AJK.

Sardar Aamir Ghaffar Lone, who had contested for the seat in the past as an independent candidate, is contesting on the PPP’s ticket this time.

The PTI has fielded Syed Rizwan Javed Shah, who has served as the party’s Sindh’s vice president.

Kashmiri community

Although there are no official statistics about the number of Kashmiris living in Karachi, an ECP official, who was involved in the last AJK polls, said Nadra statistics showed that there were 1.5 million of them living in the city.

The Kashmiri community is scattered throughout the city, mostly in Landhi Industrial Area, Shershah, Manzoor Colony, Kashmir Colony, Neelam Colony, Cantonment Station, Lyari, Korangi Crossing, Orangi Town, Sultanabad, Baldia Town and Nursery. In many of these areas, there are ‘Kashmiri Mohallas’ (small localities) where they live together.

Community leaders said a large number of Kashmiris had moved back to the AJK or Rawalpindi and Lahore in the last five to seven years because of the violence in the city.

Many Kashmiri Mohallas in the city have been vacated in recent years.

All major political parties and Kashmiri nationalist parties have their organisational set-ups in the city and regularly arrange various activities in these areas including celebrating the Kashmir Day and observing the anniversaries of Maqbool Butt and other Kashmiri leaders.

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