ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party have jointly asked the authorities concerned to ensure transparency in elections for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly slated for November 15 (Sunday).

According to the media wing of PML-N, in a joint declaration, both the parties warned the government that any possible rigging in the upcoming elections would have repercussions. The declaration came a day after the leadership of PML-N and PPP met in Gilgit. Both MAryum Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are in the region in connection with the respective election campaign. The joint declaration, according to the PML-N, said that the demand was agreed upon during the meeting between Maryum Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. It further said that presence of the federal ministers in the area, despite the court orders, is a violation of the election laws. “The presidents of Gilgit-Baltistan chapter of both the parties would evolve a strategy to stop any possible rigging in the elections, Maryum and Bilawal had agreed in the meeting,” said the PML-N media wing quoting the joint declaration. It further said that PDM would send the ‘selected’ government home.

PPP optimistic to win GB polls

Pakistan People’s Party is optimistic to win the November 15 general polls in the autonomous Gilgit-Baltistan region.

PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bokhari claimed that party was in a very good position to win the polls after the campaign by PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Parties warn government that any possible rigging in elections will have repercussions

“At this point there seems no hurdle to our victory. We are optimistic the elections will be held in a free and fair manner,” he told The Nation. The PPP leader said the party had fielded candidates on all seats and was sure to win a majority. “We will form the government after the elections. GB has welcomed Bilawal well and PPP enjoys immense popularity in the region,” he said.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was the first national leader to kick off an election campaign in Gilgit-Baltistan and remains in the area.

This will be the region’s third election since GB was given the power to rule itself in 2009 through its assembly. In the first election in 2009 the PPP won, followed by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) in 2015.

The PML-N completed its term on June 23, 2020 and the Legislative Assembly wrapped up after five years in power. Mir Afzal was sworn in as the caretaker chief minister for GB on June 24. The vote will be held on November 15.

GB has 24 constituencies and its assembly has 33 seats. Candidates from political parties will stand for 24 seats. Of the remaining seats, six are reserved for women and three for technocrats. The area has a population of about 1.3 million and a total of 745,361 voters have registered, of which roughly half or 339,992 are women.

The PPP, which suffered a defeat at the hands of the PML-N in 2015, announced candidates for all 24 constituencies. Many of the PPP candidates are seasoned politicians and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is running the campaign.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a historically distinct political entity near the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located at the junction of China, Central and South Asia, and Afghanistan.

Situated in the mountains of northern Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan covers 72,971 square kilometers. Gilgit-Baltistan was previously known as the Federally Administered Northern Areas. 

It is an autonomous region in northern Pakistan with separate government and electoral systems. In 1970, it became a single administrative unit called the Northern Areas under administrative control of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas, formed from the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar.

The region is divided into two administrative divisions: Gilgit and Baltistan/Skardu. Its government is made up of a GB Council, Legislative Assembly, ministers, a chief minister and a governor. Its assembly has the power to make laws on 61 subjects, including land revenue and administrative courts and it votes on the budget.