AS the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) swept the June 30 elections in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and ousted the Muslim Conference, it didn't come as much of a surprise. Muslim Conference President and outgoing POK Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum's popularity had been on the decline for some time now. Qayyum, who had been at the helm of POK affairs for almost two decades, had been increasingly criticised on his style of governance and inattention to development activity. And his son Sardar Attiq's gross misuse of power didn't help matters.
Out of the 40 directly contested seats, results of 39 have been announced. While the PPP and its allies bagged 30 seats, Qayyum's party could only manage five. Twelve legislators are elected by refugees settled in Punjab, Sindh and the NorthWest Frontier Province. These seats tend to be controversial because their election is supervised by the Pakistani administration. In the last POK elections, when Nawaz Sharif, who is a political ally of Qayyum, was prime minister, all 12 refugee seats went to their two parties. This time, the JKLF (Amanullah Khan), boycotted the elections describing it as a "complete sham."
Qayyum, realising he stood little chance without the support of the federal and other provincial governments of Pakistan, boycotted elections to the refugee seats. After the elections, he alleged rigging in all 40 contests. But given the fact that his writ ran in POK, the allegation does not carry much weight. Qayyum also claims that he had tried to contact President Farooq Ahmed Leghari and the Army to help check the "limitless rigging", but does not specify their response, if any.
On its part, the federal government seems to have made all efforts to ensure free and fair polling so that New Delhi is not handed a rallying point in order to shift...