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Former Pakistan PM opposes government bid to delay PoK elections

Former Pakistan prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Monday said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has rejected the federal government’s bid to delay the upcoming polls in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) due to Covid-19.

Pakistan’s coronavirus-monitoring body, National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Sunday suggested postponing the upcoming PoK elections by two months.

In a letter to the chief election commissioner of PoK, the NCOC stated that due to the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the country, the polls should be delayed, citing a possible spread of the virus due to large political gatherings.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Ashraf stressed that the PPP would not let the government steal the people’s mandate, reported The News International. “PPP rejects the decision to delay and rig the elections,” he said.

The former prime minister said that transparent, unbiased, and timely elections should be held in PoK and that the government would reap what it was sowing.

Meanwhile, PPP leader and Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said that the PoK Constitution was very clear and the elections could not be delayed, come what may, alleging that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was once again being used as an “arm twisting tool”, reported Dawn.

Ghani remarked that all the by-elections in Pakistan were held on time and now postponing elections in PoK polls meant that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was running away from the democratic process of elections.

Earlier on Sunday, PoK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider had accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of wanting to achieve its desired results in the PoK elections.

He further remarked that no matter what the Prime Minister does, PoK will never become a province.”Elections in PoK can only be postponed if there is external aggression,” PM Farooq Haider said.

He added that there is no reason to postpone the polls as by-elections were also held in the country despite the pandemic.

Last year, the Imran Khan government had announced granting provisional province status to the region, which was not received well by most of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who had protested against Islamabad’s decision of integrating the illegally occupied region with the rest of Pakistan.

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