PoK polls a ‘cosmetic exercise’, says India

An attempt by Pakistan to camouflage its illegal occupation, says MEA official

India on Thursday rejected the recent elections held in the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and termed it as a “cosmetic exercise”. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party won 25 of the 45 seats in the Assembly of the region.

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

The result announced last Monday was surrounded in controversy because of the heated exchanges among Prime Minister Imran Khan, PML-N’s Mariam Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Bilawal Bhutto.

Rigging and irregularities

Mr. Khan’s opponents have complained of rigging and irregularities. The PPP won 11 seats and the PML-N 6.

“India has lodged a strong protest with the Pakistani authorities on this cosmetic exercise, which has been protested and rejected by the local people,” said Mr. Bagchi. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that was invaded by Pakistan during the first conflict between India and Pakistan, 1947-48. India has termed Pakistan’s control over the region as illegal.

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

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