London [UK], July 24 (ANI): Ahead of elections in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appealed to locals in the area to exercise their vote and also to ensure that "ballot thieves" do not win, referring to the Imran Khan-led ruling government.
"My brothers and sister when a vote is stolen, it is not just the vote but also the fees of your children, the expenses of your children, your employment that is being stolen. I urge the people to safeguard their votes and stop these "baxa chor (ballot thieves), Cheeni chor(sugar thieves), aata chor( flour thieves) and "medicine chor (medicine thieves)" Sharif said in a video posted on Pakistan Muslim League (N) Twitter handle.
"On July 25, the people will tell that they would not allow these people to steal votes for Kashmir," he added.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) 2018 victory in the country's general elections was marred with allegations of electoral fraud and pre-poll election engineering. Nawaz Sharif accuses Pakistan's Army and intelligence for bringing Imran Khan to power by rigging the elections.
Meanwhile, Sharif also lashed out over the increasing prices of commodities in Pakistan including sugar and flour. Sharif also asked locals in PoK, whether they bought new clothes or shoes for their children at this Eid festival.
"Tell me, have the people of Kashmir celebrated Eid, if yes how?? Has any poor did able to buy new clothes or shoes for their children or do they have enough money for the sacrifice?" he asked.
PoK is set to hold general elections for the Legislative Assembly on July 25, despite appeals to postpone the polls for two months due to the threat of a resurgence of coronavirus.
Last year, Pakistan conducted the Legislative Assembly election in occupied Gilgit-Baltistan.
Meanwhile, locals in the region are seeking basic facilities including gas supply, pothole-free roads and a share in power projects in the area.
The majority of regions in PoK are struggling without gas pipelines, forcing people to rely on cylinders or wood for cooking.
The region also experiences load shedding, although there are several big and small power stations dotting the area, producing over 2500-megawatt power. Residents of the region also complain that the electricity from Mangala Dam and other power projects are transported to Pakistani cities.
The country's federal government is unable to provide people in the locality access to basic facilities.
Moreover, in PoK the room to express a political stance other than for accession to Pakistan is limited.
An electoral law, for example, requires all candidates for the legislative assembly of the autonomous PoK government to swear an oath to support accession to Pakistan. (ANI)