MIRPUR (AJK)-A total of 25 candidates have filed nomination papers with the returning officer by the last day (Monday) for contesting the scheduled November 24 by-election to the vacant seat of AJK Legislative Assembly from Mirpur City - III (LA-3) constituency.

The seat had fallen vacant following disqualification of the sitting MLA and minister in the incumbent Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider-led AJK government of PML [N] - Ch Muhammad Saeed by the Supreme Court of Azad Jammu & Kashmir in a contempt of court case on September 25. The apex court had declared Saeed disqualified for contesting or holding any public office for next five years period.

AJK elections commission has, by now, announced the by-election schedule to fill the vacant seat of the AJK Legislative Assembly, to be held on November 24 this year. Monday (October 21) was the last for filling the nomination papers for the by-polls, according to the schedule, announced by the AJK Elections Commission. The 25 candidates who filed the nomination papers with Returning Officer / Additional Sessions judge Mirpur, Muhammad Idrees Bhatti e by the last day, include prominent politicians including former Prime Minister and PTI AJK President Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, former city Mayor and former Special Assistant to AJK government Ch Muhammad Ashraf, (belonging to AJK-PP, Mrs. Shagufta Saeed, Sohaib Saeed Chaudhry (wife and son respectively of the immediate-past former AJK minister Chaudhry Muhammad Saeed) (belonging to PML-N AJK, Dr Amin Chaudhry (ex Director General MDA), Wasif Amin Chaudhry, Khalid Farooq, Tamkeen Bibi, Muhamamd Basharat, Tasleem Arif, Iftikhar Khadim, Muhammad Ikhlaq Jazbi, Muhammad Ashfaq, Muhammad Afzal Mirza, Zulfiqar Ali Bilawalk Khan, Chaudhry Yasir Sultan, Muhammad Usman Arshad, Tahir Mahmood, Zaka Ullah Faiz, Raja Tanveer Hussain, Raja Muhammad Naeeb Khan Taaker, Abdul Ghafoor, Muhammad Shafiq and Shakoor Ahmed Mughal, according to office of the Assistant Election Commissioner Mirpur.

The candidates came to the office of the returning officer for filing their nomination papers along with their jubilant supporters. A great enthusiasm was witnessed among the candidates and their supporters on the occasion.

The candidates belonging to various political parties have started girding loins to capture their respective parties candidature to contest scheduled November 24 by-election to the AJK Legislative Assembly seat Mirpur-III, LA-3.

Though various impending contestant parties most particularly the AJK’s sitting ruling PML-N AJK branch, PTI AJK Chapter, PPP [AJK Unit], AJK Muslim Conference and Jamaat-e-Islami AJK have not so far officially announced names of their respective candidates to contest the scheduled by-election arena, yet some of the candidates have launched their respective election campaign on their own.

It may be mentioned here that serious differences in the ranks of the local unit of the ruling PML-N AJK emerged when an alleged-dissident local leader and ex minister Arshad Mahmood Ghazi-backed local ‘N’ leader and sitting Chairman District Zakaat Committee Haji Iftikhar Khadim formally announced to contest the scheduled by-election from the constituency against the much-expected PTI AJK’s nominee Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, the PTI AJK Chapter’s President and former Prime Minister of the State.

Khadim announced to contest the election at a news conference here on Tuesday - despite the fact that the PML-N has not so far announced the nomination of any of its candidate to jump into the elections arena to fight. Sohaib Saeed Chaudhry, the son of the ex-MLA from this constituency and former minister of the incumbent AJK government Ch Muhammad Saeed, is considered to be the much-expected nominee of the PML-N to contest the polls.

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan, who also heads AJK branch of the PML-N, has, by now, constituted parliamentary board of his party to nominate the party’s candidate to participate in the by-polls. The candidates belonging to other political parties emerged so far to jump for fight include Ch Muhammad Ashraf, ex-city mayor and a former Special Assistant to the immediate past AJK Government as impending PPP AJK candidate and Shakoor Mughal, the much-expected candidate of the AJK Muslim Conference.

Some of those who filed their nomination papers by the last day - include independent candidates preparing to contest the polls. Final list of the candidates will appear on the stipulated date as according to the elections schedule announced so far by the AJK Election Commission.

The AJK EC has already announced the following schedule for the by-election to LA - III Mirpur -3:-

Last date for filing of nomination paper is October 21 and scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held on October 22.

Last date for filing of appeals will be October 26. Hearing of the appeals will be held on October 28. Last date of decisions on the appeals will be held the next day - October 29. Last date for withdrawal of the candidature will be October 30 while electoral symbols will be allotted on October 31. Final list of the eligible candidates will be published the same day of October 31.

Polling will be held on November 24, 2019, according to the official notification issued by the AJK EC.