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Pakistan to hold farce elections in Gilgit Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), which has been under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, will witness the so-called legislative assembly elections for the third time on 15th November 2020. The first elections for the legislative assembly were held on 12 November 2009. Interestingly, Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly has been changed into Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan through order S.R.O. 2018 (1)/ 704 issued on 1 June 2018.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has the authority to veto any law made by the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.

According to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the Election Commission of Pakistan, there are 618,364 registered voters in the region with 329,475 men and 288,889 women who will exercise their right to elect 24 legislators from 33 constituencies. Six seats are reserved for women and three for technocrats. Three members of the legislative assembly will be elected from Gilgit, three from Hunza Nagar, six from Skardu, two from Astor, four from Diamer, three from Ghizer and three from Ganche. In Gilgit Baltistan, 17 seats are needed to form the government.
<h2>Read also: <a href="https://indianarrative.com/world/democracy-pakistan-occupied-kashmir-polls-postponed-gilgit-baltistan-5471.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">No democracy in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir: Polls postponed in Gilgit-Baltistan</a></h2>
Of the total population of 12.5 lakhs in GB, the Shias dominate with 39.85%, while the others–Sunni, Ismaili and Noorbakshis are 30.05 %, 24% and 6.1% respectively.

The GB legislative assembly which was dissolved after completion of its five years term on June 24, 2020, was headed by Hafiz Hafeez-ur- Rehman of the PML-N. The Imran Khan government, largely controlled by the Pakistan Army, maneuvered to appoint former DIG Police Mir Afzal as a caretaker chief minister. The previous government was ruled by Pakistan Muslim League (N) with 22 members while the other parties – Tehreek-e-Jafana (4), Majlis Wahadat–e-Muslimeen( 3), Pakistan Peoples Party (1), PTI (1), Muthida Qaumi Movement (1) and Balwaristan National Front (1) – had much less members.

Gilgit resident Shafqat Ali Inqalabi, a historian and expert of J&amp;K affairs, told India Narrative: "It has been the practice that whosoever rules Islamabad controls GB.” According to his political assessment, PTI will capture 12 to 14 seats, PPP 3-4, PML(N) 2-3, JI and the Nationalists one each. “BNF, led by Nawaz Khan Naji, who has won from Ghizar-I twice will retain his seat again because of his popularity and voice against Pakistan’s carrot and stick policy," Inqalabi said.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency – ISI has gagged the voice of nationalist leaders by putting them behind bars. Over 200 political activists of occupied Gilgit-Baltistan are serving jail or facing terrorism and treason charges. Babajan is serving 71 years while the court has not responded to his appeal in 5 years.

The ISI is now targeting leaders from GB who have taken political asylum in US, Belgium, Canada and Austria. ISI succeed in gagging the voice of Abdul Hameed Khan, BNF leader (Hameed Group)from Ghizer Valley. He turned against Pakistan, went to Nepal in 1999 and later stayed in Brussels (2008-2015) where he exposed Pakistan’s atrocities at the international level. The ISI tracked him and quietly brought him back to Pakistan on Feb 8, 2019. He has been put in a safe house in GB to use him against GB separatist movement as and when needed.

Under the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NCTA) notification of February 26, 2019, Pakistan has put banned a number of political parties in GB, including Khana-e-Hikmat, Shia Talba Action Committee (STAC), Anjuman-e-Imamia, Tanzeem Naujawana-e-Ahle Sunnat (TNA)–Gilgit, Muslim Students Organization (MSO)–Gilgit, Tanzeem Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamat and Markazi Sabeel Organization–Gilgit, and BNF (Abdul Hameed Khan Group).

With all these political parties banned, the elections in GB will only be an eyewash..