Presidential order for holding elections, forming caretaker govt in GB issued

Updated May 17, 2020

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A view of the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly. — Photo courtesy gbcolours.com/File
A view of the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly. — Photo courtesy gbcolours.com/File

GILGIT: President Dr Arif Alvi has promulgated a presidential order to form a caretaker government and for extension of the Elections Act 2017 to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

According to a notification issued by the federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan on Saturday, the president promulgated the “Gilgit-Baltistan Election and Caretaker Amendment Order, 2020” to conduct transparent elections in GB. The GB Assembly will complete its five-year tenure on June 24 this year.

The presidential order said it was necessary to provide for adaption of laws to install a caretaker government in GB for conducting a fair and transparent election. It is expedient to amend the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 SRO number 704 (1), 2018.

The order will be called the “Gilgit-Baltistan (Elections and Caretaker Government) Amendment Order, 2020”. The presidential order inserted a new Article, “48-A”.

Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly will complete its five-year term on June 24

The presidential order said after Article 48 of the government of Gilgit-Baltistan the new article would be inserted. Under Article 48-A of the Elections Act 2017, all rules and regulations as are enforced in Pakistan would be adopted in the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan.

It directed that under Article 56(5) of the proposed Gilgit-Baltistan Reforms, 2019, the GB chief minister, opposition leader in the GB Assembly and the federal minister for Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan should agree on one name for the caretaker GB chief minister.

“If any difficulty arises in giving effect to any of provisions of this order, the president of Pakistan may, by notifying in official gazette, make such provisions as he think fit for removing the difficulty,” the presidential order said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) president for GB retired justice Syed Jaffar Shah said that there was no provision for forming a caretaker government in the region, adding that after the presidential order all difficulties had been removed.

He said elections for GB Assembly would be conducted on time. He said the caretaker government would arrange elections within two months and there was a law to extend the tenure of the caretaker government in special circumstances.

In reply to a question, Mr Shah said the Covid-19 situation would not be a hurdle in the election process. However, he added, special arrangements would be made to conduct elections in these circumstances.

When asked if arranging election activities would at all be possible during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said activities would be organised by strictly following the standard operating procedures and maintaining social distancing.

Mr Shah said the PTI’s federal government would bring political reforms to GB through an act of parliament. After consultation with all stakeholders, the proposed GB reforms bill had been tabled in National Assembly for seeking approval, he said, adding after debate in the National Assembly the bill would be passed.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2020