Sunday September 26, 2021

After the election

August 02, 2021

The PTI, which won an overwhelming majority in the recently held elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, claiming 26 out of the 45 seats up for contest in the territory is set to form the government in the area. The PPP with 11 seats and the PML-N with six seats finished nowhere close to the party at the top, with the ruling party in the centre traditionally winning the AJK polls. Following the victory, Prime Minister Imran Khan has interviewed the candidates who wish to take the position of Prime Minister of AJK and will make a decision on the matter. Before this, he will nominate the PTI candidates for the eight special seats and the speaker and deputy speaker in AJK. The eight special seats consist of five for women, one for technocrats, one for a religious scholar, and one for an overseas Pakistani. While the seats for women are expected to be shared between the top three parties, the PTI will almost certainly claim the seat for the technocrat, the overseas seat and the seat for a religious scholar.

While Barrister Sultan Mahmud, who leads the PTI in the province, is obviously a strong candidate for the PM position, there are also new entrants to the race, with six persons now in the running for the slot of prime minister. The PTI has shown a stronghold over the country, and with the AJK also falling to it, it now forms the governments in most of the provinces and territories of the country, including Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has also said the party will soon take hold of Sindh, making a clean sweep across the country and that this will be seen in the 2023 elections. The PPP has naturally denied such a possibility, insisting that the elections in AJK were rigged, and that the PPP remains the major party in Sindh and other parts of the country as well.

The process that is used to select the prime minister for the AJK territory will primarily feature Prime Minister Imran Khan and his discussions with the candidates vying for the slot. It is not yet clear whether Imran Khan already has a favourite in mind, or whether he will go for some new person to take over the position. But whoever he chooses, it is clear that the PTI is now the chief party in AJK and from this place could go on to strengthen its hold over the rest of the country, with the PML-N badly divided, and as the PPP has said, the party led by Mian Shahbaz Sharif Sharif, unwilling to make any effort to discharge the government in Punjab.