Islamabad, July 27: With nearly two days elapsing since the counting of poll results began, official results show cricket star Imran Khan leads in Pakistan general elections but he will have to seek out allies to form a coalition government.
After a tediously slow count, Pakistan election officials Friday announced Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won 115 of the 270 seats being contested in the National Assembly.
The election Wednesday gave his nearest rival, Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League 63 seats. Sharif who heads the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected the results charging widespread fraud and manipulation.
Khan declared his victory on Thursday and dismissed the allegations of fraud calling it the most transparent election in Pakistan’s history.
Third place went to the left of center Pakistan People’s party with 39 seats. Results from 20 seats were still being counted.
Khan’s party also appears to succeeded in wresting control of the local assembly in Pakistan’s biggest province, Punjab, from the Sharifs, according to reports.
Punjab is home to more than half of Pakistan’s 208 million people and been the power base of the Sharif family for more than three decades.
Pakistan’s election monitoring body and a team from the European Union were scheduled to deliver their assessments of the conduct of the election on Friday.
Mehbooba congratulates Imran
Srinagar, July 27: Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday congratulated Imran Khan over his victory in the Pakistan general elections as his party continues to gain lead while the counting goes on.
Mehbooba congratulated the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf president for his victory after his party is set to win the elections.
She said that Khan’s hard work and tenacity had won the day after trends on Friday showed that Imran Khan was set to rule the country.
Mehbooba took to her twitter handle and wrote, “Congratulations to @ImranKhanPTI on his victory. His hard work and tenacity won the day,”
Earlier on Thursday after PTI came out as single largest party, Imran Khan declared victory and addressed the media and said, “Kashmir remains our biggest contention. Kashmiris are suffering for long. We have to solve Kashmir issue by sitting across the table. If India’s leadership is willing then the both of us can solve this issue through dialogue. It will be good for the subcontinent also.”
Indian media’s response to his speech unfortunate: Shah Faesal
Srinagar, July 27: Indian Administrative Services (IAS) topper Shah Faesal on Friday took a dig at the India media over the coverage of Pakistan elections in which prime minister elect Imran Khan talked about the reconciliatory approach to solve issues between the two countries.
Expressing his dismay over a section of Indian media, the IAS topper from Kashmir called the approach of the media as unfortunate over their criticism of the win and the election victory speech of the cricketer-turned-politician Khan.
“India is being shamed (internationally) by (a section of) Indian media. The neighbouring country has elected a new PM, he is talking about reconciliation, he is talking about change, but the loudmouths on this side are ranting to ensure that the hostilities continue. Unfortunate,” Shah Faesal wrote on Twitter.
On Thursday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly of Pakistan.
The charismatic Khan is set to become the new Pakistan Prime Minister in what will be the second consecutive democratic transfer of power in the country.
In his victory speech while calling Kashmir as core issue with India, Khan called for a dialogue with India to sort out all outstanding issues.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.
News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.
During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.
The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.
“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.
The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.
Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.
In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.
However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.
Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.
The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.
The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.
Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.
Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.
“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.
Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.