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Tug-of-war: PML-N pushes for fall polls as G-B CM plans spring elections

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GILGIT: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has turned on the pressure to hold elections early in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).

HunzaNews,June 16,2014

These efforts are sharply in contrast to the resolution passed by the G-B Assembly two months ago which stated that elections will be held after December 10, 2014 – the date the current government will complete its five-year term.

“Given the tough weather conditions of G-B, you can’t hold elections after October and winter only eases up following April or May,” the regional chief of PML-N, Hafeezur Rahman, toldThe Express Tribune on Sunday.

“We have started dialogue with other parties to get their consent to hold elections by the end of October,” said Rahman, who met Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif last week in Islamabad to get a go-ahead for the G-B elections. The PM has reportedly given him the green signal to implement his poll plans.

The efforts of PML-N, if successful, will cut short the tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led government by at least two months. This means lawmakers will be unable to use their respective development funds. Each lawmaker received Rs80 million to implement development schemes in their constituencies during the fiscal year 2013-14.

The PML-N president said they have met members of Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Shia Ulema Council and other parties in a bid to evolve consensus over the “October polls”.

“We are going to convene an all-parties conference this month to move towards a unanimous decision on an early election schedule.”

Rahman suggested Chief Minister Mehdi Shah should conduct elections under his supervision. “By doing so, the lawmakers will be entitled to their monthly remunerations and other incentives till the formation of the next assembly,” added the PML-N leader.

About the absence of a chief election commissioner (CEC) in G-B, Rahman said a serving or retired high court judge should be appointed to the post within a week.

“It is disappointing the G-B government has failed to make rules for the appointment of a CEC in its five years,” he complained. “But we will prepare the rules and appoint one within a week.”

However, Shah seems to be in no mood to head to the polling stations this year. “The polls will be held by April 2015; the establishment of an interim government is inevitable,” Shah told reporters in his office on Saturday night. “The federal government has no right to impose its decision on us.”

Express Tribune


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