MIRPUR - Former AJK prime minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry Thursday filed a writ petition in AJK High Court seeking protection of the right to vote of overseas Kashmiris settled in various parts of the world mostly in Europe, Middle East and the Arabian countries.

Sultan filed the writ petition through his Counsel Chaudhry Khalid Rasheed Advocate. He has made the government, AJK Election Commission as well as Law and Finance department of the state government as party.

Through the petition, Barrister Sultan Mahmood prayed that since the overseas Pakistanis settled in various countries have so far been granted the right of vote in the general elections in their home country (Pakistan), the overseas Kashmiris belonging to Azad Jammu Kashmir as well as hailing from the Pakistan-based Jammu Kashmir refugee quarters, should also be granted the right to vote in the elections to Azad Jammu Kashmir Legislative Assembly.

The petitioner also prayed the learned court to order the concerned parties including the AJK government, the AJK election commission as well as the related government functionaries including law and finance departments of the state government to manage requisite arrangements granting the right of franchise to the Kashmiri expatriates.

Later, addressing senior journalists at the PWD Rest House, Barrister Sultan Mahmood said that about two million overseas Kashmiris, including one million in United Kingdom only, were living in various other parts of the world.

He said that these expatriates hailing from AJK and Pakistan-based Jammu Kashmir refugee circles have no right to caste their votes in all types of AJK elections especially the general elections to the State Legislative Assembly.

He asserted that the overseas Kashmiris have their exceptional significance vis a vis the national Kashmir case – since the Kashmiris expatriates, mostly those settled in United Kingdom hailing from Mirpur division of AJK, were performing pivotal role in highlighting Kashmir question abroad in most effective manner to attract the world of the significance of early peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue.

“In view of said exceptional importance of the Kashmiri expatriates and primarily being the citizens of Azad Jammu Kashmir, we have taken the said legal step knocking the door of the judiciary with request for the grant of right of vote to the overseas Kashmiris”, he declared.

He said that the expatriates’ city of Mirpur will soon be air-linked with rest of the world through the construction of an International Airport in Mirpur. Sultan said that he had recently taken up the matter with Prime Minister Imran Khan who, he added, had principally agreed to revive the abandoned project of the construction of the proposed Mirpur international airport.

He said it had been shelved by PML-N and PPP governments due their lack of interest, he added.