Pakistan on Friday billed the decision to give non-locals the right to vote in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections as “pre-poll rigging and overt manipulation”, urging the international community to take note of these efforts to change the demographics of the Union Territory and “hold India to account”.
In a statement, the Pakistan foreign office said: “The latest announcement of permitting even temporary residents in the occupied territory, including outside workforce and security personnel, to register as ‘voters’ is a clear manifestation of the treacherous Indian design to influence the outcome of ‘so-called’ elections in the IIOJK (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir).”
Jammu and Kashmir’s chief electoral officer had on Wednesday announced that around 25 lakh new voters are likely to be enrolled in the Union Territory. They will include non-locals.
Officials said with the removal of Article 370 in August 2019, one does not need to be a permanent resident or hold a domicile certificate to be registered as a voter in the Union Territory. Anyone working or studying in J&K can become a voter provided the person does not have a vote elsewhere in the country.
Pakistan sees this move as yet another step by India to turn the Muslim majority in J&K into a minority; the earlier measures it listed being the Delimitation Commission report, “issuance of fake Kashmiri domiciles” to outsiders, and changes in the property laws.
“The government of India must desist from all actions in the IIOJK that violate the international law, the UN Charter, and the 4th Geneva Convention,” the Pakistan foreign office statement said; iterating Islamabad’s call to release of all political prisoners, end human rights violations and allow Kashmiris to exercise their “right to self-determination”.