GILGIT: The caretaker government of Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday announced that Pakistan Army’s support would not be sought for the upcoming general elections, as besides Pakistan Rangers and police personnel, GB scouts would be deployed for security.

“All arrangements have been completed for fair, transparent elections,” said caretaker Chief Minister Mir Afzal while addressing a press conference here in Gilgit on Friday.

The general elections would be held on November 15 as per notification, said the caretaker chief minister.

He said there was no law and order threat for the next month’s elections and urged political parties and general public to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) in order to avoid spread of coronavirus during the election process.

PM, govt representatives barred from running election campaign

Mr Afzal also allayed the concerns of some parties over measures to ensure fairness in the election process.

Chief Secretary Khurram Shahzad Agha, who accompanied the caretaker chief minister, said that GB was the most peaceful area in the region, as all its inhabitants were law-abiding citizens of Pakistan.

“Security arrangements have been made, police, Rangers and GB scouts and other paramilitary forces will provide security,” he said, adding that Pakistan Army would be called for election security only in extremely sensitive cases.

Chief Election Commissioner of Gilgit-Baltistan Raja Shahbaz told a presser that a conference was organised here in Gilgit to consult all political parties over implementation of the election’s code of conduct.

He said the prime minister or other government representatives were not allowed to announce development projects or run election campaign of their party.

About concerns over the pandemic, the chief election commissioner said: “SOPs will be finalised after consulting medical experts to avoid spread of novel coronavirus during election activities.”

“Every effort is being made to ensure peaceful, transparent and fair elections in GB. I invite observers to come to GB and monitor the elections,” Mr Shahbaz said.

According to him, GB general elections will not be held under the supervision of Pakistan Army though troops can be called in for election security.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2020

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