Polling underway on 24 seats for Gilgit-Baltistan assembly elections

Gilgit: Polling is underway for elections on 24 seats of the second Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly on Monday. Voting began at 8am and is scheduled to last until 5pm, without any breaks.

About 600,000 registered voters are expected to exercise their polling rights in the elections. Voters will elect six members of the legislative assembly from Skardu, four from Diamer, three each from Gilgit, Hunza Nagar, Ghizer and Ganche and two from Astor.

Candidates representing the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) are contesting for all 24 seats of the Legislative Assembly, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidates for 22 seats, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) for seven, Majils Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) candidates for 15, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam- Fazl (JUI-F) for 10, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) for 13, Tehreek-e-Islami for 12 and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) for six seats.

Army has been deployed in Gilgit and Baltistan to maintain “peace and security” ahead of Monday’s legislative assembly elections in the regions, despite India’s objections to the polls.

“For maintenance of peace and security during upcoming election, army troops have been deployed in all districts of Gilgit-Baltistan,” military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said.

Bajwa in a statement said that as per the requisition of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), troops have been sent to help the civil administration in the regions. Concerned over security in the regions, the ECP had asked Pakistan Army to provide security during elections on June 8. All major parties are contesting the elections.

India has objected to the polls, calling it an attempt by Pakistan to “camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation” of the regions. But Pakistan has rejected India’s stand and said India should avoid “interference” in its internal affairs.

Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman has said that Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute, pending final settlement through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices, as enshrined in numerous UN resolutions.

The spokesman has said under these resolutions no material change is allowed, “yet India, in complete violation of these resolutions, calls it a state of the Union.”

External Affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup has said, “India’s position is well known. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir which includes the regions of Gilgit and Baltistan is an integral part of India.”