ISLAMABAD - The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has started taking into its fold some heavy weights and potential winners from Gilgit-Baltistant (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) as part of its preparations for upcoming polls of legislative assemblies of two areas with special status. PTI finalised its strategy keeping in view the past tradition that ruling party in the center always wins elections in GB and AJK, background interviews with some senior party leaders say.

At least five former ministers from GB who belonged to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the ruling parties of the area in the past, have recently joined PTI, a spokesman of PTI said. He added that there would be more announcements of joining from these two areas.

The GB assembly had completed its five-year term on June 24 and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has yet to announce its election schedule. The election schedule earlier announced for polls in GB was postponed due to COVID-19 situation in the country. Elections in AJK are due next year following five-year completion of its legislative assembly term.

In this latest addition, former PML-N Women Wing President of GB and ex-minister Sonia Muqaddam on Tuesday formally announced joining PTI along with her associates, said the spokesman.

Muqaddam announced his joining PTI when she called on Chief Organizer PTI Saifullah Khan Nyazee in Islamabad.

Nyazee in the meeting vowed that PTI would win the upcoming elections in GB with clear majority by “adopting the right strategy and pave the way to good governance and transformed system inspired by the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.” He said that the people of the region were embracing the manifesto, vision and message of PM and “a new era of construction and development of GB and the welfare of the people will begin.” 

Muqaddam said that the people of Gilgit had full confidence in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s manifesto and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s revolutionary leadership. 

The spokesman of PTI said that parliamentary board headed by vice president PTI Arshad Dad has finalized interviews of candidates for GB election and their names would be announced soon. He said that party would announce parliamentary board for AJK elections soon. 

The spokesman said that PTI had finalized its election strategy for the GB polls while an initial sketch for elections in AJK has also been prepared recently in a meeting held by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur, and AJK Legislative Assembly member as well as general secretary of PTI’s AJK chapter Majid Khan with PTI chief organizer in Islamabad. He said that a mass contact campaign was under way in AJK headed by PTI’s office bearers of the area. He said that the parliamentary board for the polls in AJK would be announced soon. 

For the new joining, PTI is considering popularity of the candidates, their potential vote bank and ensures that they are not carrying any stigma of corruption, the spokesman added.