Conflict

Pakistan announces polls for assembly in Gilgit-Baltistan as India claims region per ‘irrevocable accession’

Amidst the claims by the government of India that Gilgit-Baltistan is an Indian territory, Pakistan has announced that the once-postponed election for the legislative assembly of the strategically-located region will be held on November 15, this year.

In order to fix the date of the elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, the President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi issued an official notification on Wednesday, news agency Press Trust of India reported.

“The president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is pleased to announce Sunday, the 15th November 2020, as the poll day for the general elections to the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Legislative Assembly in terms of Section 57(1) of the Elections Act 2017,” the statement from President’s office said.

India, however, has told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an “integral part” of India by virtue of its “fully legal and irrevocable accession”.

India also has said the Government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly occupied” by it, the report said.

The polls in Gilgit-Baltistan, originally to be held on August 18, were postponed by the Election Commission of Pakistan on July 11 due to COVID.

According to the report, polling would be held on 24 general seats of the legislative assembly.

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).

In a total of 33 seats, six are reserved for technocrats and three for women. The special seats are filled from nominations by the parties winning the polls according to their representation.

The election date has been announced amidst reported consultations to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province.

The issue was priorly discussed in a meeting between the opposition leaders and Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on September 16.

 

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