Gilgit-Baltistan CEC responds, maintains polls were fully transparent
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday urged winning independent candidates in Gilgit-Baltistan against joining the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, as the government announced five more independents had joined their ranks.
“Do not become a minister for two to three months,” he said at a press conference, claiming the PTI was “cheating independents” by wooing them with promises that they were each a candidate for the chief minister’s slot. The PTI now claims to have the support of 16 members in the 33-member Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, sufficient to form a coalition government.
The PPP leader reiterated claims already stated by other members of the united opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) that PTI-led federal government would be ousted from power by January. “We have to send Imran Khan packing because he has failed on every front whether Kashmir or COVID-19,” he said.
Bhutto-Zardari said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had shown their trust in the opposition parties by voting for them in larger numbers than the PTI candidates. He also reiterated his allegations of the Gilgit-Baltistan chief election commissioner (CEC) being biased toward the PTI in the polls. He pointed to a photograph of the CEC sitting with the Gilgit-Baltistan governor and federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur, both members of the PTI, and said the official should clarify his position on it.
Alleging that reports by both the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Free and Fair Election Network had “proven” rigging in the Gilgit-Baltistan polls, he said that would reveal proof of his claims at the PDM’s Peshawar rally on Nov. 22.
“We have a program of rallies, then a long march and then resignations from Parliament and we will do everything necessary to send Imran Khan home,” he said of the PDM’s goals.
In a separate press conference, the Gilgit-Baltistan CEC, Raja Shehbaz, rejected all allegations of rigging and demanded the opposition parties submit evidence of fraud to the Election Commission to prove their claims. He claimed the transparency of the polls had been verified at both national and international levels.
He said the official results of 20 constituencies had already been declared, adding results for GBLA-2, GBLA-17 and GBLA-21 had been delayed on the request of the candidates to finish recounting the votes.
“[PPP Chairman] Bilawal has been ranting about rigging for a month … what is this rigging?” he questioned, accusing the opposition of “tarnishing” the election results. He said political leaders should not make any “baseless allegations,” as this was not in the interest of the region or its people.