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Pakistani administered Kashmir to elect new regional legislature

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Pakistani administered Kashmir to elect new regional legislature

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Photo: Dave Sanders/The New York Times

Pakistan administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) will elect a new regional legislature today.

3.2 million AJK voters will cast ballots for 700 candidates of which 53 will constitute the new AJK government, but only 33 of the 53 seats will be open to candidates today. Last week Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan campaigned in the region in support of the 45 members from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) running in this election. Since 1975, the party that controls Islamabad has won the elections in Muzaffarabad, AJK’s capitol.

Kahn’s PTI will likely claim control of the AJK regional government. A PTI win will create political alignment between the two governments, facilitating a flow of resources from Islamabad into AJK.

Recently, Khan declared his intent to hold a referendum to determine AJK’s status as an independent nation. Although unlikely in the short-term, a PTI controlled AJK may vote to become a Pakistani state, forcing the issue of control over on one of the most hotly contested regions in the world. If AJK votes to join Pakistani, India—who claims control over a portion of AJK—will likely reject the results, possibly resorting to violence to prevent direct Pakistani control of AJK.

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