PMLN, PPP complain of electoral rigging, as results suggest coalition set-up on the cards
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday emerged as the frontrunner according to unofficial and incomplete results of the 2020 Gilgit-Baltistan elections, with both the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) alleging rigging during polling and vote counting.
According to the Election Commission of Gilgit-Baltistan, 1,160 polling stations divided over 24 constituencies were contested over by 320 candidates. It said that the region had 745,362 registered voters, with 405,365 of them men and 339,997 women.
On Sunday night, the Election Commission announced that the official results would only be announced once all the votes had been tallied, and urged candidates to exercise patience before raising any questions about the electoral process.
PTI takes lead
On Monday morning, according to unofficial and unverified results, the PTI was leading in 8 of the 23 constituencies. In second were independent candidates, with 7 potential wins, while the PPP is in third with 4. Of the remaining constituencies, the PMLN was leading in 2, the JUIF in 1, and the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) in 1.
Several constituencies have yet to finish counting of all their polling stations so the contest remains heavily contested.
GBA-1, Gilgit-I: PPP’s Amjad Hussain leads
GBA-2, Gilgit-II: PPP’s Jamil Ahmed leads
GBA-3, Gilgit-III: polls delayed due to the death of PTI GB president
GBA-4, Nagar-I: PPP’s Amjad Hussain leads
GBA-5, Nagar-II: Independent candidate Javed Ali Manwa leads
GBA-6, Hunza: PTI’s Abaidullah Baig leads
GBA-7, Skardu-I: PTI’s Raja Muhammad Zakaria Khan leads
GBA-8, Skardu-II: MWM’s Mohammad Kazim leads
GBA-9, Skardu-III: Independent candidate Wazir Muhammad Saleem leads
GBA-10, Skardu-IV: Independent candidate Nasir Ali Khan leads
GBA-11, Kharmang: PTI’s Syed Majid Ali leads
GBA-12, Shigar: PTI’s Raja Azam Khan leads
GBA-13, Astore-I: PTI’s Mohammad Khalid Khurshid leads
GBA-14, Astore-II: PTI’s Shamsul Haq Lone leads
GBA-15, Diamer-I: Independent candidate Haji Shah Baig leads
GBA-16, Diamer-II: PMLN’s Muhammad Anwar leads
GBA-17, Diamer-III: JUIF’s Rehmat Khaliq leads
GBA-18, Diamer-IV: PTI’s Gulbar Khan leads
GBA-19, Ghizer I: Independent candidate Nawaz Khan Naji leads
GBA-20, Ghizer II: PTI’s Nazir Ahmed wins leads
GBA-21, Ghizer-III: PMLN’s Ghulam Muhammad leads
GBA-22, Ghanche-I: Independent candidate Mushtaq Hussain leads
GBA-23, Ghanche-II: Independent candidate Abdul Hameed leads
GBA-24, Ghanche-III: PPP’s Muhammad Ismail leads
While largely peaceful, the polls did see some unrest as reports emerged of clashes between the workers of the PPP and PTI in Skardu during counting of ballots. The PPP had alleged electoral rigging, with senior leaders saying that returning officers were not announcing the results despite completion of the counting process. Similar to allegations of rigging from the 2018 general elections, the PPP also claimed that polling was allowed to continue till late into the night in some constituencies against rules.
Per routine, the ruling party’s lawmakers slammed the opposition for alleging rigging, saying the opposition needed to accept that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had opted against their narrative.
Addressing a press conference in Multan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi claimed parties win and lose in politics, adding that the people’s trust in the electoral process should not be brought under question. “There were no clashes or fights, the campaign was completed. According to my assessment, their expectations might not be fulfilled. But if they make noise about rigging, it would not be correct,” he claimed.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz repeated his claims of the electoral campaign that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were “using the power of their vote to reject incompetent rulers.”
In a press conference on Sunday, PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman alleged that election observers of the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) had been removed from polling stations before the start of ballot counting.
“People who are coming to cast their votes are finding out that their votes have already been cast through postal ballots,” she alleged, and urged the Election Commission to ensure people’s mandate was respected. She also alleged that women had been restricted from using their right to vote at several polling stations.
FAFEN has said that while some of its observers had been asked to leave polling stations before the start of the counting process, they were allowed to witness the count after complaining to the Election Commission.
On Monday, PMLN leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told a press conference that the “process of rigging” that started two-and-a-half years ago had reached its fruition. Alleging that the PTI had utilized pre-poll rigging to achieve its victories, he claimed the public had shown its “true” desires during the election campaign.
Meanwhile, PMLN Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, in a posting on Twitter, said that the PTI’s failure to secure a simple majority was akin to a “shameful defeat.” She claimed that this was the “first time” that a party ruling at the center had faced such a “defeat” in Gilgit-Baltistan.
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari rejected the results in a posting on Twitter and vowed to protest. “My election has been stolen. I will be joining the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in their protest shortly,” he said.