LG polls in Azad Kashmir to be held in three phases: CEC.

MUZAFFARABAD -- Putting speculations to rest, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Election Commission on Monday announced that the local government (LG) polls would be held in three phases at division level due to unavailability of security forces from Pakistan.

The announcement, which was made by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Abdul Rashid Sulehria at a hurriedly summoned press conference, drew scathing criticism from the regional leaders of both major opposition parties, PPP and PML-N who termed it a 'collusion between the commission and the ruling PTI to rig polls.'

On Sunday, AJK Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas had asked chief secretary Usman Chachar to 'make it known to the Commission to fulfil its constitutional responsibilityof holding LG polls on the given date on Nov 27,' adding that 'deferment or phased elections were not an option before the government.'

In its immediate rejoinder, the Commission had maintained that while it had made complete arrangements for the polling on Nov 27, 'ensuring peace through deployment of security forces was the government's responsibility which could not be passed on to other institutions.'

Says decision taken due to unavailability of security forces from Pakistan

On Monday, the CEC told a meeting of senior government officials that despite requests and messages the federal government seemed to be unwilling to spare security forces for the polls in view of the volatile political situation there.

'Since we have been unable to get the required security forces from the Centre or provinces, we have been left with no option but to hold the process from our own [human] resources in three phases,' announced the CEC at his hurriedly called presser in the evening.

Under the revised schedule, polling in Muzaffarabad, Poonch and Mirpur divisions would be held on Nov 27, Dec 3 and Dec 5, he added.

'In between if we get the forces, we can again revise dates,' he declared.


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