Pakistan-controlled Kashmir erupts into protests over 'rigged elections'

Pakistan-controlled Kashmir erupts into protests over 'rigged elections'

Agitators accused Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League of rigging recent elections. (Getty)

Muzaffarabad | Jul 27, 2016, 08.40 PM (IST)

Massive protests erupted across Pakistan-controlled Kashmir as people hit the streets against the recent elections, which they claimed were rigged by the winning Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The PML-N was declared winner in 32 out of the 41 seats for the elections to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, held on July 21.

Protesters blocked the traffic and burnt tyres as they staged protests in Muzaffarabad. All commercial establishments also remained shut in cities as protesters held demonstrations outside government buildings.

Various incidents of violence were also reported from across the region as supporters of political parties clashed with each other.

"After rigging elections, they are now indulging in widespread propaganda and killing. They have killed our friend. If the authorities fail to take any action, they will be responsible for any future incident," said a party worker of Muslim Conference on Tuesday. 

The protesters alleged that genuine voters were not allowed to cast their votes during the elections and the country's intelligence services rigged the polls in favour of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party.

"The election commission should suspend everyone. They have stooped to such low levels. We suggest everyone not to indulge in any violence, but now when they have started (the violence), we will reply back for sure," said a local, Raza Mansoor.

The PML-N had fielded 38 candidates in the elections, while the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) had contested elections on all 41 seats. Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had contested elections in 32 constituencies.

The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir was split between India and Pakistan in 1948, after they fought a brief war over it. It remains at the heart of animosity between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The win by Sharif's party in the region is seen to not have any direct bearing on Pakistan's stand on the Kashmir dispute or on its dealings with India.

(Reuters) 
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