ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has convened a meeting of the parliamentary leaders of all the parties on Sept 28 at the Parliament House to discuss election reforms and to seek proposals for ensuring transparency in the upcoming elections in Gilgit-Baltistan.

According to a handout issued by the National Assembly Secretariat on Thursday, the speaker has formally invited the parliamentary leaders by sending letters to them.

Prominent among those invited are Opposition Leader and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Asad Mehmood of the JUI-F, Chaudhry Tariq Bashir Cheema of PML-Q, MQM’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

The speaker in his letter has stated that some circles are expressing concerns and doubts about the transparency in the GB elections. He said he had convened the meeting so that the parliamentary leaders could suggest steps for ensuring transparency in the GB elections.

The speaker took the initiative on the sensitive issue of the GB elections a day after President Arif Alvi notified Nov 15 as the date for the elections on 24 general seats of the GB Legislative Assembly. The polling was earlier scheduled to be held on Aug 18 but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The five-year term of the previous GB assembly had ended on June 24, bringing an end to the five-year rule of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

The government and the opposition had already agreed to hold consultations on the proposal of granting “provisional provincial status” to GB after the elections.

The opposition parties have warned the federal government against any move to interfere in the GB elections terming it a sensitive matter and the warning was also mentioned in the 26-point declaration issued at the conclusion of the opposition’s Sept 20 multiparty conference.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020

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