India lodges protest against elections in Pakistan-administered Kashmir

NEW DELHI (AA): India on Thursday lashed out at Pakistan for conducting elections in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, calling it a cosmetic exercise rejected by residents.

“The so-called elections in Indian territory, under illegal occupation of Pakistan, are nothing but an attempt to camouflage its illegal occupation and the material changes undertaken by it in these territories,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi.

“Such exercises cannot hide the illegal occupation by Pakistan in Indian territories, or the grave human rights violations, exploitation, and denial of freedom to people in occupied territories,” he said.

Bagchi said India lodged a strong protest with Pakistani authorities on the election.

“Pakistan has no locus standi on these Indian territories. We call upon Pakistan to vacate all Indian areas under its illegal occupation,” he added.

The party of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan emerged as the largest party in Pakistan-administered Kashmir elections on Sunday.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party secured 25 of 45 seats.

More than half of the eligible 3.2 million voters cast ballots to elect the 53-member Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) assembly to a five-year term.

Parliamentary system of governance

Following the division of Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistani and Indian-controlled parts in 1947, the AJK was governed under the presidential form of government.

In 1975, then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced the parliamentary system for the region.

This first government headed by Bhutto’s PPP was dismissed in 1977 due to the imposition of martial law in Pakistan by then-Army Chief Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. There were no elections until 1985.

The Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir 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 divided the part that it is holding into two centrally administered territories on Aug. 5, 2019, elections in the part of the region administered by Pakistan have attained considerable significance.

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