Massive protests erupted in almost all parts of Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) after Sunday's elections, which were marred with rigging and violence by workers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, with the help of the Pakistani Army.
Imran Khan's PTI has managed the majority in the 45 member Assembly of the PoJK by winning 25 seats allegedly through coercive means by brazenly depriving people of their democratic rights.
The protests, which started during the polling on Sunday in some particular areas, have now engulfed the entire PoJK as residents come on the streets against theft of their votes.
Within minutes after the declaration of the results of the elections, residents of PoJK started a hashtag #VoteChorMafia on social media with pictures of Imran Khan and Pakistan Army Chief Bajwa.
Two civilians killed, several injured in firing
Two persons have been killed and 15 injured in Sharda village of Neelum district in PoJK on Monday after Pakistani troops of Frontier Constabulary (FC) opened fire at local villagers who were protesting against rigging in the elections by the Pakistan army.
A social activist of PoJK Dr. Amjad Ayub Mirza said one more person has succumbed to his injuries, taking the toll to three. "This incident is the cold-blooded murder of innocent citizens because Pakistan troops resorted to unprovoked firing on civilians," Mirza said and added that the gruesome murder of three civilians is the first gift of Imran Khan's party for the people of PoJK.
"Successive Pakistani regimes have adopted oppressive means to deprive us of basic fundamental rights," he said and alleged that sexual assault on women by the Pakistani Army has become a routine affair in PoJK.
Opposition candidate seeks India's help
A Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate, who was not allowed to campaign for elections, has said that he would seek India's help if the local administration does not cooperate with him as the Legislative Assembly elections in Pakistan occupied Kashmir has been marred by violence.
According to Pakistani media, Choudhary Muhammad Ismail Gujjar said his election camp was dismantled despite the presence of police personnel.
The PML-N candidate had warned his party would also cause problems if the polling process did not continue peacefully. "The deputy commissioner had asked my polling agents to leave and threatened them," he said and asked the government to take action, failing which, he said unrest will ensue and people will die.
Opposition parties accused the PTI-led government of rigging the elections. Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) vice-president Senator Sherry Rehman blamed the Centre for systematic rigging and said it was attempting to steal the elections.
Meanwhile, PoJK's so-called Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider has called the election a farce. "The assembly elections were nothing but a farce exercise to hoodwink the people," he said in a statement.
Interestingly only Pakistan-based parties get seats
Although successive Pakistan governments repeatedly claimed to give autonomy to PoJK, regional parties were never allowed to flourish in this part. Three Pakistan-centric parties namely Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Nawaz Sharief, and Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) of Bhutto-Zardari family dominated elections.
PTI won 25 seats with 32 percent of votes, followed by PPP 11 seats with 17 percent of votes, the incumbent PML-N 6 seats with 25 percent of votes. PoJK based two regional parties won one seat each.
Netizens start trending hashtag #VoteChorMafia
On the one hand, residents of PoJK resorted to protest against 'stealing' of votes, netizens started trending of #VoteChorMafia on social media to highlight unprecedented rigging in the elections.
"In elections, way the institutions have rigged for the puppet government. There is no precedent in its history. The party with 32٪ votes is forming the Government while the party with 18٪ votes is the opposition candidate and the party with 25٪ has been given 5 seats. Shame," tweeted Mian Mujeeb Ur Rehman, an eminent columnist of Pakistan.
"Rigging in the elections is a continuation of the robberies in the 2018 general elections. The dishonest and rogue mafia is bent on disrespecting the parliament and the judiciary to usurp power. Can defeat the ambitions of vote chor mafia," another Twitter user Malik Ali Hassan tweeted.
"I think nowadays Pakistan army troops are trained for vote stealing methods during elections at polling station instead of war," observed Dr. Ali Gujjar.
شاردہ میں ایف سی اہلکاروں کی فائرنگ سے تین سویلین ہلاکتوں کے بعد دواریاں کے مقام پر شاہراہ نیلم بند کرکے احتجاج کیا جارہا ہے— اُمِ فاروق (@humairaajmal697) July 26, 2021
مقبوضہ کشمیر اور آزاد کشمیر میں فرق صرف وردی کے رنگ اور ڈیزائن کا ہے کشمیریوں کے ساتھ سلوک تو ایک جیسا ہی ہے pic.twitter.com/Evz2LGdkbG