Islamabad, Nov 15: Wearing face masks, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan voted on Sunday in the third legislative assembly election amidst tight security. India has slammed Pakistan for its decision to hold election in Gilgit-Baltistan and said any action to alter the status of the militarily-occupied region has no legal basis.
The voting which commenced at 8.00 am (local time) ended peacefully without any break at 5.00 pm and no untoward incident was reported.
The counting of votes has started and complete results are expected by tomorrow. Earlier, the polling officials said that the voters present inside the polling stations would be allowed to cast ballots even after the end of polling time.
There are 24 seats for the contest but polling on one seat was postponed, leaving 23 seats up for grabs. As many as 330 candidates, including four women, are in the contest, they said. India has opposed Pakistan’s plan to hold election in Gilgit-Baltistan.
“Any action by Pakistan to alter the status of the militarily-occupied so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ has no legal basis whatsoever and is totally void ab-initio,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Anurag Srivastava said at a virtual media briefing in September.
“Our position has always been clear and consistent. The entire territories of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been and are an integral part of India and would remain so,” Srivastava had said.
It is the third election for the current legislative assembly after political reform introduced in 2010. Out of 1,141 polling stations, 577 have been declared sensitive and 297 highly sensitive. Over 15,000 security personnel from Gilgit-Baltistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan have been deployed at polling stations. However, army personnel have not deployed.
A fierce triangular contest involving Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreel-i-Insaf: has been predicted by experts. 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.
The PPP has fielded 23 candidates, while the PML-N has 21 aspirants.
Story first published: Sunday, November 15, 2020, 22:26 [IST]