Islamabad/Lahore, Jun 26 : Elections to the assembly in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir today were marred by several violent incidents, prompting the postponing of voting by Kashmiri refugees in the eastern city of Lahore.
The polling in Lahore was put off by the Election Commission after a violent clash between supporters of the PML-N and the Pakistan People's Party. “The Election Commission ordered the deferring of polls for LA-37 seat after supporters of political parties occupied polling stations,” Returning Officer Rana Ishtiaq Rao told reporters.
The order was issued after police failed to stop political workers from occupying polling stations. “Under the prevailing law and order situation, elections cannot be held,” Rao said. The violent clash between PPP and PML-N supporters took place at Shadbagh and Gulberg areas, leaving a few persons injured.
The PML-N workers also attacked policemen who were trying to avert the clash.
Senior PPP leader Raja Riaz told PTI that PML-N workers stopped his car in Gulberg and tried to attack him. “Seeing its defeat, the PML-N deliberately created a law and order situation to put off the election in the Lahore constituency,” he said.
Tension between the PPP and PML-N increased when PML-N leader and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif refused to take a call from Governor Latif Khosa, a senior leader of the PPP, to discuss the violent incidents.
“Shahbaz is responsible for postponement of the poll. He is answerable to the people of Lahore for failing to control his party men,” Khosa said. Besides polling stations across PoK, voters exercised their franchise at polling stations in several cities, including Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The voting began at 8 am and was scheduled to continue till 5 pm.
There were reports of violent clashes in Narowal district of Punjab and some parts of PoK. Two people were reportedly injured in these incidents. A PPP candidate escaped an attempt on his life, party workers claimed.
More than 2.9 million voters are expected to vote today to elect 38 representatives in the PoK assembly. Besides Lahore, polling in three constituencies for Kashmiri refugees across Pakistan was postponed due to security concerns.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement announced it would boycott the polls due to these postponements. Some 10,000 police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed to ensure security during the polls. PoK police chief Tarik Ahmed Khokhar said he was satisfied with the security arrangements.
“Police personnel have been deployed and paramilitary troops have taken their respective positions today. The help of army personnel will be sought in the event of an emergency,” he said. PTI