GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan chief election commissioner Raja Shahbaz Khan has said the long-awaited local body elections will be held in the region early next year.

Mr Raja Shahbaz told Dawn that the GB Election Commission had decided to organise polls for Gilgit-Baltistan local bodies in the next few months.

The last local body elections in Gilgit-Baltistan were held in Aug 2004.

Mr Shahbaz also rejected the allegations of rigging in the recent Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly polls and said the electoral exercise took place in a free and fair manner and without the influence of the federal government.

Insists recent elections were held in free, fair manner

He said additional polling stations were established for elections in every constituency to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

The CEC said for the first time, the elections were held in the region under the Election Act, 2017, and Election Rules, 2017, which didn’t exist earlier.

He said the district returning officers and returning officers were taken from judiciary and civil administration to ensure transparency in polls, while no untoward incident was reported due to tight security arrangements.

Mr Shahbaz said computerised electoral rolls were made in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority. He said disciplinary action had been taken against the government employees, who were found to be involved in political activities, social media campaigns, wall-chalking and hoisting of political parties’ flags at public buildings and properties.

The CEC said the region had 759,461 registered voters and 464,045 of them participated in elections putting the voter turnout at 60.10 per cent.

He said a tribunal had been established to hear appeals of candidates regarding elections or their results.

BIRTHDAY: The 84th birthday of Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili community, was celebrated across Gilgit-Baltistan with zeal and fervour on Sunday.

Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon, Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan, ministers and leaders of political parties congratulated members of the Ismaili community on the occasion and paid tribute to him over services for regional development.

Cake-cutting ceremonies were held in Gilgit, Skardu, Ghizer and Hunza areas to mark the day, while special events took place in Jamat Khanas, Ismaili places of worship, across the region.

The participants paid tribute to the Aga Khan for role in their development and held special prayers for peace in and progress of the country.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2020

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