PTI heavyweight wins Kashmir presidential vote

ISLAMABAD: Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was elected president of Azad Kashmir on Tuesday, securing 34 votes, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

His opponent, Mian Abdul Waheed of the Pakistan Peoples Party — the opposition’s joint candidate for the office — managed only 16.

Chaudhry will succeed Sardar Masood Khan whose stipulated constitutional term will come to an end on August 24, Radio Pakistan said.

Votes for the election were cast during a special session of the legislative assembly, which began after a delay of two hours, APP reported.

Chaudhry was elected MLA from LA-3, Mirpur-III, securing his seventh victory in nine general elections since 1985. Apart from these general elections, two by-elections were also held in the constituency and both were won by him.

According to his profile, Chaudhry is an old hand. He has also served as prime minister of the region from 1996 to 2001 when he was associated with the PPP.

He joined the PTI in 2015 when he was a PPP member of the House.

The PTI has formed a government in the mountainous region following a clear lead in the elections.

According to official results, it clinched 26 general seats of the 53-member House. Three more PTI candidates were elected unopposed the following day against five seats reserved for women.

Days later, it secured another three reserved seats, raising its strength to 32 in the House.

PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNANCE:

Following the division of the region between Pakistan and India in 1947, Azad Kashmir was governed under the presidential form of government. In 1975, then-prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced the parliamentary system of governance for the region.

This first government headed by Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party was dismissed in 1977 due to the imposition of martial law by then-army chief Gen Ziaul Haq. There were no elections until 1985.

The Muslim-majority region is held by Pakistan and India in parts and claimed both in full. A small sliver of land is also held by China.

Since India revoked autonomy and annexed the part that it is holding into two centrally administered territories on August 5, 2019, elections in Azad Kashmir have attained considerable significance.​​​​​​​

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