ISLAMABAD: Over half of the polling stations being established for Nov 15 elections in Gilgit-Baltistan have been categorised as sensitive, a Senate panel was informed on Tuesday.
The GB chief secretary told the Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan that out of the total 1,141 polling stations, 577 had been identified as sensitive, with 297 of them highly sensitive.
The data shared with the panel reveals that 125 out of the 208 polling stations in Gilgit have been declared as sensitive, including 48 highly sensitive.
The situation appears to be comparatively better in Ghizer district where 62 out of a total of 143 polling stations have been declared as sensitive, with 31 of them as highly sensitive. In Hunza, 20 out of the total 64 polling stations have been categorised as sensitive, of which 11 are highly sensitive. In Nagar district, the total number of polling stations is 61 out of which 22 are sensitive including nine highly sensitive.
Elections in the region are set for Nov 15
In Skardu, 103 out of the total 181 polling stations have been declared as sensitive, of which 57 are highly sensitive. In Ghanche, the total number of polling stations is 49 out of which as many as 30 have been declared as sensitive, including 16 as highly sensitive.
In Shigar, 24 out of the total 61 polling stations have been declared as sensitive, of which 12 are highly sensitive. In Kharmang, 27 out of the total 39 polling stations have been categorised as sensitive, 16 of them as highly sensitive.
Diamer appears to be a major trouble spot where only four out of the total 141 polling stations have been categorised as normal.
The panel was informed that in November, some high altitude areas received heavy snowfall, requiring additional arrangements for transportation of election materials, polling staff and returning officers. Helicopters will be requisitioned from the army for arrangements in these areas.
Briefing the committee on the steps taken for transparency of the elections, the chief secretary pointed out that the chief election commissioner of GB had issued a notification on May 18 banning executive authority from postings and announcement of fresh development schemes.
He said that two all-party conferences were held on July 7 and August 26 for reaching consensus among political parties on the conduct and schedule of elections.
He said under section 238 of the Elections Act, 2017, extended to Gilgit-Baltistan on May 15, the CEC had invited observers including Fafen to monitor elections. He said the code of conduct for contesting candidates and political parties had already been issued and electoral rolls had also been updated on the demand of political parties.
Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2020