Imran Khan’s PTI Set To Rule Gilgit-Baltistan

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SRINAGAR: Erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir’s arid region is exhibited the same trends regardless of the Line of Control separating them. A month after the Ladakh LAHDC polls were swept by the ruling BJP, the elections in Gilgit were won by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

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Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a meeting in Gilgit Baltistan in November 2020. They were campaigning for their parties during the third election to GB assembly.

Reports appearing in Pakistan media suggest that Khan’s party is formally staking the claim on the Gilgit-Baltistan government.

The GB assembly consists of 24 directly elected seats, in addition to nine reserved seats for women and political appointees that are allocated based on a proportional representation basis. The house has 33 seats in total. Elections were held on 23 seats because a candidate died during campaigning that led to the postponement of the elections in the particular constituency.

The Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) assembly’s 23 berths went to polls and of them 10 were won by PTI. While Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) won three seats, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) got two seats. The Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen Pakistan (MWM) secured one seat after seat adjustment with the PTI whereas independent candidates emerged victorious in seven constituencies.

Imran Khan also flew to GB and campaigned during November 2020.

The results, however, have not been formally made public, so far. In certain areas, there were protests accusing the PTI of rigging the polls.

The GB region cast votes on Sunday (November 15). A day later results started pouring out.

The region witnessed high-pitch campaigning. While Imran Khan personally flew for a series of speeches, the opposition leaders – Maryam Nawaz Sharief and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari were stationed in the region for many days. Though Khan’s party failed to get the simple majority in the region, its emergence as the largest party is because of its promise to make the region, fifth province of Pakistan. This idea is being opposed by Delhi and the Kashmiri separatists. After unimpressive outcome for their parties, both Maryam and Zardari are accusing PTI of poll rigging. In fact, Bilawal participated in a protest demonstration against the poll verdict.

“With the addition of the proportional representation seats, Khan’s PTI and its allies are expected to have 16 seats, one short of the number needed for an outright majority,” Al-Jazeera reported.

Maryam Nawaz Shareef while campaigning in Gilgit Baltistan

The region that was being governed differently, was given a right to choose its assembly only in 2010. This is the third assembly that the region elected. Polling, however, has taken place on 22 seats only as a candidate died while campaigning that resulted in the postponement of the polls. As many as 330 candidates, including four women, contested the election. In order to ensure incident-free polling, around 15000 security personnel had been deployed for the election process, reports appearing in Pakistan media said.

GB is strictly following the party that rules Pakistan. The first election was won by PPP when it got 15 seats, followed by the PML-N, the then ruling party, in 2015 when it won 16 seats. It is now PTI turn.

Gilgit Gambit

“The Gilgit-Baltistan elections have delivered little surprise. Despite the spirited campaign by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz, the GB electorate has chosen to vote as per convention for the party ruling in Islamabad,” Pakistani newspaper, Dawn commented on the elections. “These elections saw unprecedented levels of campaigning as well as wide media coverage because they took place in the backdrop of a larger political confrontation between the PTI and the opposition alliance PDM. The reactions to the results therefore are as unsurprising as the results themselves. The PTI says the poll outcome has buried the opposition’s narrative; the PPP and PML-N say the results are a product of electoral rigging. Neither may hold fully.”

The region is important because it hosts the umbilical cord of Sino-Pakistan friendship the CPEC that passes through it.

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