Gilgit-Baltistan: Many Politicians Switch Sides in GB

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GILGIT (ET): Anticipating a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) victory on Election Day, at least a dozen regional politicians from various parties have recently defected to the party in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).

The newest PML-N members were recruited on Thursday when Haji Qurban, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Nagar Valley president, and Jan Alam, a politician from Hunza, announced they would be joining the party’s ranks along with their supporters.

The announcement was made in a ceremony held at a local hotel, which was attended by senior leaders of the PML-N including regional chief Hafizur Rahman. Welcoming the new arrivals, Rahman hoped the party would sweep the elections.

Last week, Malik Miskeen, a senior member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) from Diamer valley, also joined the party taking with him hundreds of his supporters and friends. Miskeen, a notable politician, was the speaker of the G-B Assembly during the government of ex-president Pervez Musharraf – the man responsible for sending PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif packing.

Similarly, dozens of influential people from Barmas opted to join the PML-N, expressing confidence in the regional leadership.

Last month, Ghulam Mohammad, a key leader of the PPP in G-B, defected to the Nawaz League after he was sidelined by his own party. A resident of Ghizer valley, Mohammad remained PPP’s general secretary for several years.

Haji Fida Mohammad Nashad, a senior leader of the PML-Q, joined the PML-N in 2012. Nashad was the deputy chief executive of the G-B government during Musharraf’s tenure.

The PML-N’s popularity in G-B, at least amongst veteran politicians, is rising day by day in the run up to the polls. Independent observers believe the defections may increase in the coming days if the PML-N wins a majority.

Meanwhile, even though residents of G-B cannot cast their votes on Election Day due to constitutional reasons, they will be closely watching who forms the country’s next democratic government in Islamabad come May 11

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