GILGIT (ET): Elections in Gilgit-Baltistan—earlier expected to be held by the end of this year—have apparently fallen victim to the ongoing protests of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in the federal capital. The beleaguered federal government has not been able to find enough time to address the issue of elections in GB, giving rise to speculation of a ‘constitutional breakdown’ on December 11, when the tenure of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party comes to an end.
“The GB government will step aside on December 11 after completing its five-year term, and with it GB will plunge into a constitutional crisis as the Governance Order 2009 has no provision for a caretaker setup,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s regional chief Hafeezur Rahman said while talking to a select group of journalists in Gilgit on Saturday. “The federal government was working on an election schedule, but the dharnas have resulted in a delay as the government’s attention is on resolving them,” explained Hafeez.
“I repeatedly pointed out this vacuum and asked Chief Minister Mehdi Shah to hold elections under his supervision in October, but he didn’t take it seriously,” Rahman said while referring to Mehdi Shah’s earlier statements. Shah had said on the floor of the legislative assembly recently that elections would be held next year. Similarly, Law Minister Ali Madad had said the governance order would be amended to make way for a caretaker setup.
GB has not been immune to the political impasse in Islamabad. Residents and politicians in the region are anxiously awaiting the outcome. “This should come to an end. This isn’t going to give us anything,” Murtaza, a resident of Gilgit, hoped for a timely end to the crisis.