‘Splendid’ turnout as vote counting begins in Gilgit Baltistan elections
Earlier, thousands and thousands of people waited for hours in long queues as they used their right to vote in the Gilgit Baltistan elections. The turnout was heavy as there were long lines outside the polling stations towards the end of the voting.
Caretaker Chief Minister (CM) Gilgit Blatistan Haji Mir Afzal declared the turnout in Gilgit Baltistan general elections splendid. Talking to media after casting his vote, Mir Afzal said that the polling in the transparent Gilgit Baltistan elections was held peacefully.
Mir Afzal said that he will take action over shortage of the polling staff as he waited for over an hour in line to cast his vote. He also said that more women than men have come out to cast their votes in the general elections.
GB Chief Election Commissioner Raja Shehbaz Khan visited central control room established to monitor general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. The CEC inspected arrangements at the control room while Gilgit-Baltistan’s chief secretary also briefed him on the occasion.
Raja Shehbaz expressed satisfaction over the performance of the local administration in conducting the polls.
It is to be mentioned here that the polling for GB elections started at 8am and will continue until 5 pm without any break.
As many as 330 candidates including four women are contesting the general elections in 23 constituencies of GB Assembly. Election has been delayed in GBLA-3 following the death of PTI Gilgit-Baltistan President retired Justice Jaffer Shah from coronavirus.
Right from the word go, long queues were witnessed outside polling stations as voting began in the third elections of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly amid heavy security. People started to gather outside the polling stations much before the scheduled time.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) are among the parties contesting for the 23 seats of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.
A three-pronged tough contest between the PPP, PML-N and PTI is in the making. The number of registered voters for the GB elections is 745,361 although the population of the territory is around 1.8 million. As many as 1,160 polling stations have been set up across the region among which 418 has been declared very sensitive and 311 as sensitive.
The GB elections were due to be held on August 18, but were deferred till November 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The GB assembly has a total of 33 seats. Of them, the election on 24 seats is held through direct vote. Six seats are for women and three for technocrats.
The people will elect 23 members today while polling in constituency GBA-3 has been postponed due to the death of a candidate. The polling will now take place on November 22.
More than 15,000 security personnel from GB, Punjab, KP, Sindh and Bolochistan were deployed at polling stations across GB.
GB police chief Dr Mujeebur Rehman has said that the military troops could also be deployed for assistance in the election if required.
Election Commission Gilgit-Baltistan has prohibited to carry mobile phones and other such devices inside the polling stations and within the parameters of 100 meters.
A recent survey published by the media suggested that the PTI has an edge over other parties. However, in elections, any upset can happen, turning the scale in favour of the opposition.
Since opposition parties are already levelling rigging allegations, the possibility of them refusing to accept the results cannot be ruled out. And in that case the opposition’s movement against the federal government will gain strength. And that will be a bad omen for the federal government.
The PTI has put up candidates on all seats. Two of its candidates come from Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM), which is an ally of the PTI.
The PPP candidates include: Amjad Hussain (GBLA-1 Gilgit-I); Jameel Ahmed (GBLA-2 Gilgit-II); Aftab Haider (GBLA-3 Gilgit-III); Javaid Hussain (GBLA-4 Hunza Nagar-I); Zahoor Kareem (GBLA-6 Hunza Nagar-III); Syed Mehdi Shah (GBLA-7 Skardu-I); and Mohammad Ali Shah (GBLA-8 Skardu-II).
The PML-N has 22 candidates in the field. The PML-Q has 13 candidates, JUI 12 and Jamaat-i-Islami three.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz took an active part in the campaign for their candidates.
Federal ministers Murad Saeed and Ali Amin campaigned for the PTI candidates.
The PPP and the PML-N remained in power in GB during the past one decade. Syed Mehdi Shah was the PPP chief minister while Hafeezur Rehman was the PML-N’s.