The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday slammed recent elections in Gilgit and Baltistan area and said the exercise is an attempt by Pakistan to deny the people of the region their political rights.
Gilgit-Baltistan region is the northernmost administrative territory of Pakistan. Pakistan, on Monday held legislative elections in the Gilgit-Baltistan region against India’s constant objection. Voting began at 8 am and continued till 4pm with minor conflicts breaking out, leaving people injured. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), about 6,18,364 registered voters were expected to exercise their franchise to elect six members of the assembly from Skardu district, four from Diamer, three each from Gilgit, Hunza Nagar, Ghizer and Ganche and two from Astor.
According to unofficial results, PML-N secured 12 of the 24 constituencies, followed by two seats each for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen and the independent candidates. One seat each was grabbed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Islami Tehreek. PML-N regional president Hafeezur Rahman secured 10,157 votes in GBLA-2 Gilgit, followed by PPP’s Jamil Ahmed with 7,415 votes. PTI’s Fatehullah managed to bag slightly more than 1,000 votes.
PPP candidate Amjad Hussain accused his PML-N opponent Jafarullah of rigging at one of the polling stations. “PML-N candidate’s supporters carried out rigging at the Hainzal polling station. The accusation was not confirmed since the party in question was not available for comment.
Women in Diamer’s Darel Valley cast their ballots for the GBLA polls, while the women in the adjacent Tangir Valley “voluntarily abstained”.
Both the valleys of Diamer district are considered the most backward in the entire region where female literacy rate is hardly one per cent. The local jirga had imposed a ban last month on the women in the valleys, declaring voting by women against cultural and religious norms.
However, after the media highlighted the issue, the election commission of G-B had asked the administration to ensure separate polling stations for women in both the valleys.
Official Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup in New Delhi had expressed concern at the “continued efforts” by Pakistan to deny the people of the region their political rights and to absorb these territories. But Pakistan had rejected India’s stand and said India should avoid “interference” in its internal affairs.