The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has emerged as the single largest party in the third legislative assembly elections in Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative, Dawn reported.
The party securing 10 seats, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which got three seats and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) two seats.
Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) won one seat. Seven seats have been won by independent candidates.
There are 24 seats for the contest but polling on one seat was postponed. As many as 330 candidates, including four women, were in the contest.
Observers believe that independent candidates will play a decisive role in the formation of the government in the region with many of them expected to join hands with the PTI.
This time the elections, held on Sunday amid tight security, 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 newly formed opposition alliance PDM.
The PTI says the poll outcome has “buried the opposition’s narrative” while the PPP and PML-N say the results are a product of “electoral rigging”.
The polls were earlier scheduled to be held on August 18, but Pakistan’s election commission on July 11 postponed them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The five-year term of the previous assembly had ended on June 24, bringing an end to the five-year rule of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
It was the third election for the current legislative assembly after the political reforms introduced in 2010.
Traditionally, the party ruling in Islamabad has won the Gilgit-Baltistan polls. The first election was won by the PPP when it got 15 seats, followed by PML-N, the then ruling party, in 2015 when it won 16 seats.
In a ruling earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed Islamabad to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. The Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorising the prime minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects.
India has opposed the holding of the Gilgit-Baltistan elections and repeatedly said that the exercise has “no legal basis whatsoever and is totally void ab-initio”.
Following the Pakistan Supreme Court verdict, India issued a demarche to a senior Pakistani diplomat and lodged a strong protest over the apex court ruling.
Earlier on November 1, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announced granting provisional provincial status to the region.
He made the announcement on his visit to the area to attend its 73rd Independence Day celebrations.
“We have taken this decision keeping in mind the UN Security Council’s resolutions,” Khan said.
The Prime Minister said that one of the many reasons Gilgit-Baltistan remained backwards was because it was “cut off” from the rest of Pakistan, and promised his “development plans” for the region.
Reacting to the move, India said the Government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly occupied by it”.
“The Government of India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
“I reiterate that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the area of so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan”, are an integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava said.