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NationalMunicipal elections in Kashmir: Irshad Mahmood - Opinion

Municipal elections in Kashmir: Irshad Mahmood – Opinion

The first phase of local body election in Muzaffarabad Division was successfully completed. The election process will be completed in Poonch and Mirpur divisions by December 3 and 8.

The results are mixed, but the satisfaction aspect is that the elections were held. Despite all the problems and challenges, the local police and administration managed to conduct this election.

A lot of hurdles were put in the way of local body elections to be held after three and a half years. There was an atmosphere of uncertainty till the last minute. Since the federal government had refused to provide the required security force, there was a possibility that the election could be postponed at any time.

In this party-based election, the main contest is between three major political parties. Tehreek-e-Insaaf has an advantage over other parties due to being in the government. Voters are also generally inclined towards the ruling party so that some developmental work can be done in their areas.

PPP is the second largest parliamentary party in Azad Kashmir and Muslim League is the third largest parliamentary party. Muslim Conference and Jammu and Kashmir PPP also have one seat each in the Legislative Assembly. Interestingly, all three major parties have workers at the street level are Jamaat-e-Islami is also actively participating in local elections. Smaller parties are also expected to perform well in the elections.
A great election campaign is going on in Azad Kashmir for the last two months.

Prominent political and social leaders are also participating in these elections. Since the elections are being held at the local level, women are also very active. Many are participating in the elections directly. According to the Election Commission of Azad Kashmir, 10 thousand 556 candidates are participating in the elections. 12.5% ​​seats are reserved for women and 12.5% ​​for youth.

These seats will be indirectly elected later. The total number of registered voters is 2,950,129. Including 1,383,100 women. 5357 polling stations have been set up. The total number of union councils is 278 and the number of wards is 2,086. A total of 2,364 people will be elected to the Zilla Council and wards. A quick look at the election campaign shows that all the discussion and debate is on local issues. The candidates have presented their respective ward development manifestos. It will not be out of place to say that the elected councilors will definitely succeed in getting some work done in their areas.

The federal government was facing security problems due to PTI’s long march in Islamabad, so they did not provide security to Azad Kashmir. Now that the long march is over. Therefore, the federal government should immediately provide security for the election in Poonch and Mirpur divisions so that there is no law and order problem. If possible, elections should be held in both the regions on the same day so that the objections of the opposition can be removed.

The fact is that the local body elections would never have happened if Supreme Court Chief Justice Raja Saeed Akram Khan had not stood by his decision like a rock. He only issued an order to hold local body elections but later strongly rejected every attempt to sabotage the elections. He was the one who encouraged the Election Commission. The Election Commission also played a dynamic role in removing the objections of political parties and demarcations. Rather, he tried hard to make the elections happen somehow. Every attempt to delay the election through various pretexts was foiled by the Election Commission.

Prime Minister Sardar Tanviralias Khan was hesitant regarding the local body elections in the initial period. Traditional politicians had successfully surrounded him. But soon they realized that there is no choice without holding elections. So, they put all their energy and ability to conduct the election. Despite the fact that the federal government did not provide security, conducting the election was a big heart job. He accepted this challenge and cried red.

Probably the historian will say that the biggest achievement of the current government of Tehreek-e-Insaf and Prime Minister Tanveer Ilyas is the holding of local body elections. It is also important to mention former Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum Niazi that he paved the political atmosphere for local body elections during his tenure. Removed legal hurdles. And made it a public demand. President Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary as the President of PTI made this demand a part of the election campaign and later played a positive role in conducting the elections. He supported the local body elections at every stage.

Behind the scenes, the national security agencies were so fired up that the doomsday would break with the local elections. Nationalists will dominate the political landscape. A political atmosphere will be created against Pakistan. Therefore, they should use their influence to postpone the election, but they should not fall into this delusion. He encouraged the process of devolution of power to the grassroots level.

The present Local Government Act does not match the needs of the present day. The control of the government on local bodies is very high. The elected councilors will have to lobby hard to empower them in Kashmir as well, on the pattern of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Punjab. They have to share in mutual development funds so that they can serve the citizens.

Likewise, they have to compete for administrative powers. It is hoped that from these elections, a fresh leadership will emerge in every village and city, which will gradually establish its position at the level of Kashmir. The current crisis of leadership will end. Educated, young and experienced politicians have always emerged from the local government system. Therefore, the local bodies have to be strengthened so that leadership emerges and the delivery of civic services becomes easier.

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