Polling begins in Gilgit-Baltistan

Islamabad, June 8 (IANS) Polling began on Monday to elect 24 legislators in Pakistani Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly amid strict security arrangements.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have fielded their candidates in all the constituencies, while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are contesting on 22 seats, media reported.

The Majils Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM), All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) are among the other parties contesting the polls.

India has slammed the elections terming it as an attempt by Pakistan “to camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation of the regions” and to deny its people their political rights.

About six million registered voters are expected to cast their ballot. Eight members – three technocrats and five women – will be indirectly elected. Nearly 467 candidates are in the fray, Geo News reported.

Election material was transferred under army supervision to polling stations in the seven participating districts of the region, the media report said.

Deployment of the troops was requested by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the civil administration.

Army officers have been given special magisterial powers to control the law and order situation.

The Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly was created through a presidential order in 2009 and the PPP won the subsequent election, completing a five-year term in office.

On December 13, 2014, an interim government was set up with a 12-member caretaker cabinet to conduct free and fair elections.

Many independent candidates are participating in the polls.

The Gilgit-Baltistan area of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by Pakistan covers 85,793 sq km.

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