Thursday September 23, 2021

Kashmiri refugees’ constituencies spread across Pakistan

July 21, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The constituencies for Kashmiri refugees, who will elect 12 members of the Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly (AJKLA) on July 25, are scattered far and wide across Pakistan.

No election has such geographically scattered constituencies. One constituency is spread over all the four provinces while another two are scattered in two different federating units. Some other constituencies are located in a large number of districts of Pakistan, often far away from each other.

Any political party winning all or a majority of the 12 seats of the refugees settled in Pakistan is going to be in a comfortable position to clinch the slot of the AJK prime minister. It will require just 23 of the 45 directly contested seats of the AJKLA to secure a simple majority.

Since the entire polling staff, including the district returning officers (DROs) and ROs for the refugees’ seats belong to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), it is the ECP’s responsibility to ensure that the electoral exercise is fair, free and transparent. ECP personnel working in the provincial headquarters and districts have been deputed to supervise the election for the refugees’ seats according to previous practice.

Past results of elections to the refugees’ seats in Pakistan had favoured parties that had been in power in the provinces. The Rawalpindi, Sialkot and Narowal districts have the largest concentration of the refugee voters as four seats will be contested in these areas.

LA-XXXIV Jammu-1 is the largest constituency area-wise as the voters are scattered over Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. Polling for this seat will be held in 48 districts including Quetta, Mastung, Naseerabad, Sibi, Barkhan, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Shaheed Benazirabad, Naushero Feroze, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Jamshoro, Badin, Sanghar, Larkana, Umerkot, Karachi West, South, East, Central, Malir, Korangi, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahimyar Khan, Multan, Pakpattan, Vehari, Layyah, Okara, Muzaffargarh, Faisalabad, Jhang, Chiniot, Toba Tek Singh, Sargodha, Bhakkar, Khushab, Mianwali, Lahore, Sheikhpura, Nankana Sahib, Kasur, Sahiwal, Rajanpur and Khanewal.

Similarly, voting will take place in 27 districts of Sindh and Balochistan for the LA-XL Kashmir Valley-1 constituency. They include Quetta, Kalat, Kech, Lasbela, Sibi, Killa Saifullah, Jamshoro, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Dadu, Shikarpur, Shaheed Benazirabad, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Karachi West, Karachi South, Karachi East, Karachi Central, Malir, Korangi, Tando Allah Yar, Badin, Thatta, Noshero Feroze and Sanghar.

Likewise, the Kashmiri refugees living in 28 districts of Punjab will cast their votes for LA-XLII Kashmir Valley-III. They include Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Okara, Bhakkar, Sargodha, Rahimyar Khan, Multan, Vehari, Khushab, Rajanpur, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Mianwali, Mandi Bahuddin, Sialkot, Narowal, Faisalabad, Jhang, Chiniot, Toba Tek Singh, Jhelum and Chakwal.

The LA-XXXIX Jammu-VI seat will be elected by voters from 23 districts in two provinces including Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Attock, Jhelum, Chakwal, Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Kohat, Buner, Charsadda, Karak, Kohistan, Mohmand, Abbottabad, Haripur, Mansehra, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Swat, Swabi, Upper Dir and Chitral.

Twenty-one districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) will vote for the LA-XLV Kashmir Valley-VI seat. They are Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Abbottabad, Haripur, Mansehra, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, South Waziristan, Swat, Batgram, Buner, Tank, Charsadda, Chitral, Shangla, Swabi, Kohat, Kohistan, Lakki Marwat, Lower Dir and Mohmand.

The refugees living in the districts of Gujranwala (except Wazirabad Tehsil) and Hafizabad, and Tehsils of Daska, Pasrur and Sambrial of District Sialkot will vote for the LA-XXXV Jammu-II seat.

The voters registered in Wazirabad Tehsil and districts of Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin will cast their ballots in LA-XXXV-II Jammu-IV constituency.

The refugees of districts Lahore, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib and Kasur will elect the LA-XLI Kashmir Valley seat.

The LA-XLIII Kashmir Valley-IV seat will be elected by voters registered in ward numbers 15 to 50 within the limits of Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC), as they existed in 1985.

Similarly, the voters living in ward numbers 1 to 14 within the limits of RMC as they existed in 1985; Rawalpindi cantonment wards numbers 1 to 10; Rawalpindi district outside the limits of RMC; Islamabad Capital Territory and Attock district will cast their ballots for the LA-XLIV Kashmir Valley-V seat.