After losing the legislative assembly elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has alleged that women were not allowed to vote in the recently concluded polls. Bhutto has claimed foul play at several counts as the Imran Khan-led PTI won the most seats in the election. Criticising the Election Commissioner, he remarked that 7000 women voters were registered and it is the commissioner's right to ensure that they are allowed to exercise their right to vote.
"From election day to today, PPP workers are exercising their democratic right and protesting this selected and incompetent Prime Minister in this harsh weather. They are getting recounts done by putting the election commissioner to shame. We have always said this is not an election commission, but PTI's election wing," Geo News quoted Bilawal Bhutto.
Referring to a report by a Pakistani journalist, Bhutto also stated that there is a picture that shows the election commissioner sitting with the Governor and a Federal Minister who is a PTI member. "You have sold the public of Gilgit Baltistan. You have sold this land. You cannot handle this post. You are so shamelessly saying on national television that elections were clean," he said of the Election Commissioner.
Bhutto's remarks come days after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif claimed foul play in the elections. Sharif alleged that Imran Khan's PTI won a few seats in the elections through 'rigging', 'bullying', and with the help of turncoats. Maryam, on her Twitter, wrote that Imran's PTI failing to achieve an absolute majority in the northern region (illegally occupied) is a "shameful defeat" for the incumbent government, the News International reported. "This defeat is a telling sign of what the future has in store," she added.
Earlier, Dawn had quoted Bilawal as saying at a press conference that results were manipulated "overnight" for elections on seats that the PPP was winning and the party was declared to have lost them during the day. He further said that PPP candidate Jameel Ahmed had been winning the election by 1,000 votes "but this morning [Monday] an attempt was being made to hand over that seat to PTI by two votes".
Elections were held on 23 seats of the third legislative assembly on Sunday amidst tight security due to the threat of reprisals. Polling on one seat was postponed after the death of one of the contestants. Unofficial results compiled by the various media outlets showed that PTI won at least 8 seats and was ahead in one, but it was still well short of a majority to form the government. However, it was in a position to form the government as 6-7 independent candidates also won.
Geo TV reported that PTI won 8 seats, independent candidates 7, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) 3, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) 2, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JIU-F) and Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) 1 seat each. The official results were still not known as election authorities may take some time to announce the final outcome.
In a ruling earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed Islamabad to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. The Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorising the Prime Minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects.
(with inputs from ANI)