Pakistan News

Electoral schedule unveiled for Pakistan-based Kashmiris

Electoral schedule unveiled for Pakistan-based Kashmiris

MUZAFFARABAD: The schedule for the preparation of fresh electoral rolls for 12 constituencies of Pakistan-based Kashmiris has been announced by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Election Commission.

Of the 41 constituencies of the AJK Legislative Assembly, 29 are located within AJK territory and the rest across Pakistan in order to represent refugees from India-held Kashmir.

Six of these seats are reserved for refugees from Kashmir Valley, and as many for refugees from the Jammu region and “others” – a loophole that allows AJK citizens living in Pakistan to take part in polls from there.

For the enrolment process of refugees, AJK Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mughal has designated all regional and district election commissioners in Pakistan as revising authorities and registration officers respectively, with the consent of the Pakistan CEC, said an AJK Election Commission (EC) spokesperson here.

According to him, enumerators will record details of Pakistan-based Kashmiris on a prescribed form from March 15 to April 4.

Draft lists will be prepared from April 5 to 7 and publicised on April 8 to solicit claims and objections between April 9 and 13. The revising authorities will take decisions between April 14 and 16, and corrections will be made in the draft lists accordingly, before the final lists are printed on April 24, the spokesperson said.

Referring to the recent amendments in the AJK Electoral Rolls Ordinance 1970, the spokesperson said that enrolment as voters for these 12 seats was conditional on (the production of) State Subject Certificate, computerised national identity card (CNIC) or B-form issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

Prospective voters without the State Subject Certificate require accreditation by a “voter verification committee”, comprising representatives of all major political parties and in case of any dispute, the CEC will take the final decision, he added.

The spokesperson said a person must be 18 years old by Apr 20, 2016 to be eligible to be enrolled as a voter in both AJK and Pakistan. The process of compiling voters lists in the 29 constituencies within the AJK territory commenced on Saturday. EC had announced earlier that electoral rolls for these 29 constituencies would be printed on April 9.

However, EC spokesperson Tariq Mahmood Butt told Dawn that an amended schedule for AJK constituencies was being issued shortly, in light of a recent meeting between the AJK CEC and the Nadra chairperson. In AJK, the door to door data collection campaign will conclude as per the earlier schedule, on March 20, following which the draft lists will be given to Nadra on March 22 for comparison with its citizens database, Mr Butt said.

After getting the lists back, EC will publicise them to solicit claims and objections which will be decided by the revising authorities (deputy commissioners). The spokesperson said the decisions will be incorporated into the lists, which will then be sent to Nadra again for the final printing. Govt asked to avoid transfer of officers. Meanwhile, the EC has asked the government to avoid transfers of administrative officials engaged in the preparation of voter lists in AJK.

“… All assistant commissioners and tehsildars are working under the supervision of their respective deputy commissioners as registration and assistant registration officers, respectively, and any transfer at this point of time will affect the process for preparation of electoral rolls,” the government was told in a letter. “In the event of indispensable transfer, the government should seek prior approval from the CEC,” it added.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2016

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