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Free and fair: Absence of poll chief raises credibility concerns in G-B

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GILGIT: The absence of a chief election commissioner in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has halted the process of computerised electoral lists, raising suspicion over fairness of the upcoming polls in the region.

HunzaNews, June 5th, 2014.

“The process will not move ahead unless a chief election commissioner is appointed in G-B,” said an official at the G-B Assembly Secretariat.

General elections will be held in G-B in December or early next year following the completion of the assembly’s five-year term. However, the credibility of the polls will be under question if elections are held without computerised electoral lists.

The previous elections of 2009, which were won by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), were marred by allegations of rigging as the electoral list was prepared in just two weeks.

“The elections of 2009 were massively rigged and that resulted in our defeat,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regional president Hafeezur Rahman told The Express Tribune on Wednesday. “We hope this time around the lists are computerised to ensure transparency and fair play for every party.”

The G-B Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution last year, demanding appointment of an independent chief election commissioner (CEC) in the region. However, the resolution went unheard as the post is still lying vacant.

The issue was reportedly taken up by Chief Minister (CM) Mehdi Shah with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday during a meeting held in Islamabad.

“The CM has made it clear that the process of [preparing an] electoral list has been delayed due to the absence of an election commissioner,” said a spokesperson at the CM Secretariat. The regional government has forged agreements with NADRA for computerised lists and the CEC must therefore be appointed immediately, he added. 

 Express Tribune

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