Protests rock PoK over alleged rigging of polls to favour Nawaz Sharif

27 July 2016

Protestors in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) have hit the streets alleging rigging of the 21 July election by the ruling party to secure 32 out of the 42 assembly seats for Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) combne.

Large-scale protests erupted in Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Chinari and Mirpur, after the members of the PML(N) killed a supporter of the Muslim Conference (MC) in Muzaffarabad, according to reports.

Stating that polls in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have always been fixed in favour of the ruling party in Islamabad, the protestors alleged that they were not allowed to cast votes to facilitate rigging of polls by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and others in favour of Sharif's PML(N).

The disputed region of Kashmir, forcibly taken by Pakistan in 1948, after they fought a brief war over it, remains at the heart of animosity between the neighbours.

Sharif stressed the need to improve relations with India in his successful campaign for the last general election in 2013 but changed his tone under pressure from the powerful army, which oversees security and foreign policies.

Last year reports had emerged that residents of PoK were openly advocating to be a part of India. They were said to be impressed with PM Narendra Modi's style of governance.

Chairman of the Anjuman Minhaj-e-Rasool, Moulana Syed Athar Hussain Dehlavi, who had toured PoK had said that people residing in the region want to be a part of India.

According to Dehlavi, the people of the region are distressed with growing extremism in Pakistan and want to lead a peaceful life. Given the opportunity, they would want a referendum so that they can vote to join back India.

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