GILGIT: Major opposition parties in Pakistan alleged rigging as official results for last week’s legislative assembly election in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region were announced on Tuesday, with the party of Prime Minister Imran Khan bagging the most seats.
The GB assembly has 33 seats, 24 of which are contested through directed elections, six are reserved for women and three are reserved for technocrats and professionals.
Parties had campaigned for week for the November 15 polls, with candidates promising to build infrastructure projects and end decades of neglect in a region that has never officially been part of Pakistan, but forms part of the portion of disputed Kashmir that Pakistan controls.
Both Delhi and Islamabad have claimed all of Kashmir since gaining independence 73 years ago, and have fought two wars over the territory.
“I, Raja Shah Baz Khan, Chief Election Commissioner, Gilgit-Baltistan do hereby publish the names of candidates returned to the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly as a Result of General Election 2020 from the under mentioned constituencies,” a notification from the election commission said.
The notification said 10 candidates from PM Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), seven independent candidates, three and two respectively from the opposition Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) parties, one from the religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) party and one from the Muttahida Majlis-e- Muslimin (MWM), had won seats.
Six of the seven independent candidates who won have formally announced joining the PTI.
Protests broke out in Gilgit-Baltistan as the election results were announced. In past days, too, political party workers have demonstrated against what they have called a ‘rigged’ election. On Monday, four official vehicles, including a caretaker minister’s vehicle, and the building of the forest department, were torched by PPP protesters.
“We are protesting from last week,” PPP information secretary in GB, Sadia Danish, told Arab News, adding that results had been “changed” in at least one constituency. “We reject the results of election commission and will leave no stone unturned to get justice.”
The chief of the PML-N’s GB-chapter and former chief minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman also said the election had been “rigged.”
“Although we have no hope of justice, but we will fight ... to get justice,” he added.
Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Speaker Fida Muhammad Nashad has summoned the first session of the new assembly on Wednesday.
According to data from the Gilgit-Baltistan election commission, 745,361 people had registered to vote in the election, of which 339,992 are women. Nearly 1,234 polling stations were set up in 24 constituencies, of which 415 were declared ‘extremely sensitive.’
As many as 330 candidates, including four women, vied for 24 general seats in the third legislative assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan.