Kashmirs: Alike in polls, different in 'execution'

Sun Online Desk

3rd December, 2020 05:04:40 printer

Kashmirs: Alike in polls, different in 'execution'

Elections were held in both Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in November and that is where the similarities between the two nuclear-armed neighbours end.

The election process in itself was largely different. While India aimed at forming a democratic government to better the lives of the residents, the elections in PoK's Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on Nov 15 were designed for Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI), to win.

To start with, the GB elections were to take place in the month of August, but were postponed by the Khan government.

Even though Islamabad claimed 'incomplete voters list' as a reason for their decision to defer the polls, critics say it was intentional.
"...the GB elections were a power grab scam which enabled the federal government in Pakistan to ‘select’ a toothless rubber-stamp legislative assembly," the article read.

Contrary to the polling just across the border, as much as 51.76 percent voting was recorded in the first phase of the UT's District Development Council (DDC) elections, which started from Nov 28. The voting will be completed in eight phases.

What was more remarkable was the voter turnout in South Kashmir, which is more prone to terrorist attacks and unrest.
PTI's win in GB also came as a shock to many pundits who had predicted a disaster for Khan and his team.

But on the day of the election gunmen attacked several polling stations and replaced ballot boxes with ones which had already been filled with votes to make ‘selected’ PTI candidates win, Mirza claimed.

"At least 1,700 postal votes were discovered in Astore which had mysteriously been stamped before the election date," the article read.

Though GB remains loyal to the centre, at least it had been in 2009 and 2013, ie: the party in power tends to win in GB, residents are indifferent towards Imran Khan as several of his policies have gone against them.
Yet, the PTI won eight seats.

Maryam Nawaz of Pakistan-Muslim League Nawaz who was considered a favourite, drawing the largest crowds at her public meetings in Gilgit and Skardu, managed just the two seats.

Pakistan People’s Party leader Bilawal Zardari Bhutto won four.
As far as the DDC elections are concerned, those opposing the abrogation of article 370 and 35A  (of the Indian Constitution) wanted a disruption, unfortunately for them, the voter turnout spoke otherwise.

What is Article 370?

According to Article 370 of the Indian constitution, it gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, a region located in the northern part of Indian subcontinent which was administered by India as a state from 1954 to 31 October 2019, conferring it with the power to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state.

It was removed in October 2019 as the Indian Government made Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory.

What is Article 35 A?

Article 35A of the Indian Constitution was an article that empowered the Jammu and Kashmir state's legislature to define "permanent residents" of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them. Non-permanent residents of the state, even if Indian citizens, were not entitled to these 'privileges'.


Source: JustEarth