GILGIT: By-elections for GBLA 6 Hunza have now been scheduled for September 10. The new date has been fixed by the Gilgit-Baltistan election commission.
The new date was announced days after the election commission postponed the polls to provide security to tourists who are visiting the region. Earlier, the polls were scheduled for August 29.
“The new date is September 10 and a notification has also been issued [in this regard],” Election Commissioner Abid Raza told The Express Tribune.
A large number of political activists welcomed the new date and expressed hope that it would not be changed.
“Let’s hope this is the final date and elections are held in a peaceful manner,” a politician told The Express Tribune.
Earlier, the suspension of polls was viewed with suspicion by many politicians who had been actively campaigning for the polls. Many of them called it a plot by the government to garner support for its Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate Saleem Khan.
They said the leadership of PML-N is worried over Saleem’s weak position and imminent defeat in the polls.
“The people are not with PML-N candidate this time,” an official said. “That is something worrying for the leadership,” he added.
On the other hand, the disqualification of Awami National Party leader Baba Jan has also dealt a blow to the party. They have replaced Jan with left-wing activist Akhun Bhai.
Political analysts believe it is quite likely Akhun will turn the tables on PML-N given the efforts made by leftists to bring their candidate to the fore.
“The PTI and PPP candidates are lagging far behind,” a commentator said.
The constituency GBLA 6 fell vacant after Mir Ghazanfar Ali was appointed as G-B governor in place of Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and G-B Barjees Tahir. Besides PML-N, the election for the constituency is being contested by Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Workers Party and various independent candidates.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the polls had been postponed in view of Nawaz and the COAS’s visit to the region. The prime minister and the army chief will participate in a conference regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The election commissioner had said the new date for the elections will be announced soon. He said this has been done because the home department was unable to provide security for the polls.
However, Farooq Ahmed, a government official, later said the by-elections were postponed due to the provision of foolproof security for tourists.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2016.