Gilgit-Baltistan: GB & AJK likely to get right of vote for Pakistani Legislatures

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Islamabad (ET):The people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are likely to be given the right to dual votes, one for Pakistani legislatures and the other for legislative assemblies for their respective territories.

Over 3.5 million voters are likely to be added to the communised electoral rolls being prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) with the cooperation of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

“After the ministries of foreign affairs and law gave the go-ahead, the ECP completed the hearing of petitions and reserved its judgment. They are most likely to get the right to vote,” an ECP official told The Express Tribune, requesting not to be named since the judgment was pending with the commission.

The status of these areas is disputed but the people of these areas had previously been casting votes in Pakistan and there was no specific law granting them the right to dual vote.

AJK and G-B have their own legislative assemblies. Kashmiri refugees (those who migrated from areas now under Indian Kashmir) living in Pakistan also vote for the AJK legislative assembly.

In the initial stages of preparation of the new computerised electoral rolls, these so-called Kashmiri refugees were included in the registration process but the people of AJK and G-B were excluded. Petitions were moved against this action, following which the ECP sought the opinion of the Foreign Office and the law ministry.

Both have now given a go-ahead to the ECP and it is expected that people in AJK and G-B will now be registered. “They [the people of AJK and G-B] will be required to list one of their addresses [either permanent or temporary] from some area falling inside Pakistan to be registered as voters,” the ECP official said.

The electoral list will be displayed for public verification before being finalised next year.

Around 80 million voters have been included in the new electoral rolls while another few million are likely to be added in the coming days.

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