Although the 53-member voting campaign in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) entered the final phase, the 12 refugee seats have been the subject of controversy.
Of the 45 main seats on Sunday’s by-elections, 12 have been reserved for 464,000 refugees – six of whom have fled Jammu and Kashmir Valley of India who illegally occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) in 1947 and 1965.
Researchers point to differences in the distribution of the seats, saying that while 30,000 registered as refugees from the Kashmir Valley elect six delegates, the 434,000 registered as refugees in the Jammu region also elect equal delegates.
In addition, these people do not live in AJK but are scattered in Pakistan.
The reason for the offer was to provide a demonstration to the refugees at a government meeting, which is now widely seen as a “trumpet” used by Pakistani ruling parties to reverse its effects.
Bashir Sadozai, a political analyst and author at Kashmiri in Karachi, however, supports the distribution of seats to refugees. But he also spoke of the need to end their “abuse”.
“These seats have been reserved for the general public in Kashmiri, which is a good thing,” he said, citing the IIOJK conference, which also has 24 reserved seats in AJK and north of the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
He acknowledged that successive Pakistani governments in central and regional areas had been misused to gain power at the Azad Kashmir summit.
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Pakistani ruling parties win these seats
Sadozai said any party that wins the majority of refugee seats has a chance to form a government in AJK.
In the 2016 elections, the political parties that control the capital and provinces won 12 seats. Ten seats were won by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had power in the center and in Punjab, where the refugees are. many homelands in Kashmiri.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of Prime Minister Imran Khan, which ruled Sindh provinces and northwest of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in 2016 won one seat.
Now with a change of positions, the PTI controls the headquarters and provinces of Punjab and KP, while the PPP continues to control Sindh.
Danish Irshad, a political analyst at Muzaffarabad says refugee seats are often used as “political experts” to form a government in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“Political and political parties in Kashmiri have been left behind in the process. (This) seems to be an obstacle to free elections in AJK,” he told Anadolu Agency.
He further added that the AJK Election Commission would not be able to exercise its powers and regulate the way elections are represented in these 12 seats, making the process “doubtful” and “incorrect”.
In addition, he added, the constituencies are now divided into three constituencies, which make it impossible for candidates to join the party to attract voters with their goals.
Jammu-1 is the largest region in the region, with voters spread to the Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces, including 48 states.
Voters in another area of refugee refugee from the Kashmir Valley are scattered in the 27 districts of Sindh and Balochistan.
They are not really interested in the local news
According to Irshad, Kashmiri-based voters based in Pakistan have no interest in the administrative system and the problems of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
He also said that state governments often use their “resources” to win these seats to participate in the AJK conference.
Sadozai said many refugees, especially from the Jammu region, have merged with Pakistanis and no longer have an ID.
“Hundreds of migrants to Jammu and Kashmir live in Karachi alone, but they have joined the local people, and they are no longer identified as refugees,” he said.
Read more: Political parties reduce the number of women in AJK elections
A new group of refugees
There is, however, another group of refugees, who left IIOJK in 1990 and later settled on the border with Muzaffarabad, the capital of AJK.
Refugees with more than 8,000 families are sleeping in various refugee camps, located along the Line of Control (LoC), a de-facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir between nuclear neighbors.
Some of them registered as voters in Azad Kashmir.
Waiting for passengers at the main bus station in Garhi Dupatta town, 22 kilometers from Muzaffarabad, Mohammad Ilyas, a young cyclist, will vote for a resident of Pahari. The group, which made up 75% of the refugees in 1990, has been relocated to a refugee camp near Garhi Dupatta by the Pakistani army.
Refugee camps are legally controlled by gang leaders or brigades, who choose to support or oppose anyone who wants to. Ilyas says refugees cannot afford to go against the law, which gives them a monthly allowance and so on.