Centre to grant status of province to GB: minister

Published November 1, 2020
Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Khan Gandapur addresses public gathering during the election campaign in GB near Kashrot area. — APP
Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Khan Gandapur addresses public gathering during the election campaign in GB near Kashrot area. — APP

GILGIT: Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur on Saturday announced that the federal government had decided to elevate the status of Gilgit-Baltistan to a province.

Taking exception to Mr Gandapur’s visit to GB and his election activities in the region, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) central government of violating election rules.

Mr Gandapur, along with PTI chief organiser Saifullah Khan Nyazee and secretary general Irshad Dad, arrived in Gilgit for taking part in the campaign for his party candidates in the upcoming GB elections.

Addressing a party gathering in Kashrot Gilgit, the minister said the long-standing demand of the GB people was not fulfilled during the last seven decades. The decision to make GB a province of Pakistan was taken about four months ago, he added.

PPP, PML-N term federal minister’s visit to region violation of election rules

“It was amazing for me to hear that the GB people had liberated themselves from the Dogra rule and decided to annex the region to Pakistan unconditionally,” he said.

He alleged that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif had opposed the decision of declaring GB as a province of Pakistan. He criticised the PPP and PML-N for not granting constitutional rights to GB people during their governments and ignoring the GB people.

He appe`aled to GB people to vote for Imran Khan in the GB elections, promising that issues of the GB people would be resolved on a priority basis.

The minister said an economic and industrial zone would be established in GB under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Mr Gandapur also spoke at party gatherings in Diamer on Friday where he announced some development projects, including construction of education institutions, roads and health units.

Pre-poll rigging

Meanwhile, local leaders of the PPP and PML-N have criticised the federal government for sending Mr Gandapur to Gilgit during electioneering in the region, saying that by announcing development projects for the region at the time when the election is very near the federal minister is violating election rules.

Declaring it pre-poll rigging, they protested against the federal minister’s visit in GB ahead of the election and announcement of development projects.

Addressing a press conference PPP senior vice president Jamil Ahmed, secretary information Sadia Danish said that the GB election commissioner had failed to implement elections rules.

The PPP had submitted a petition in the GB chief court, challenging violation of election rules in GB and asking the court to direct the federal minister to leave GB.

Mr Ahmed said that under the Election Act 2017, office holders in the federal government, including the president and prime minister, were not allowed to take part in election activities.

They said protests would be organised if the minister continued violating election rules. They alleged that 1,700 fake postal ballets for PTI candidates in Astore had been found by returning officers in Diamer.

PML-N president in GB Hafeezur Rahman had given a 48-hour ultimatum for expulsion of the federal minister from GB.

According a press release, Mr Rahman has threatened to lay siege to chief secretary houses to ensure a free and fair elections in GB.

He blamed the chief election commissioner and the caretaker government of failing to ensure a free and fair elections. He also accused the federal minister of using the bureaucracy and the government’s resources to influence the election.

He said the federal minister was announcing creation of districts, tehsils and development projects during public gatherings. There were no such open violations of election rules in the region in the past, he said, adding that the president, prime minister and ministers were not allowed to visit GB after announcement of election schedules.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2020

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