Gilgit-Baltistan is a region of natural beauty, rich in resources and spread over a vast area. This area covers 28,174 square miles or 72,971 square kilometers. Due to its mostly mountainous terrain, the population is only 1.8 million. The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly has 24 seats, on which party-based elections are held. Earlier, two elections were won by PPP and PML-N respectively, this is the third general election, this time in the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly elections, the credibility of all the political parties was at stake. The PTI took the field and kept alive the tradition that in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, the same party that is ruling in the federation wins. Although the large gatherings of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had given hope to both the parties. However, only one visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan worked and PTI took the lead. The PPP and PML-N have traditionally accused the government of gross rigging, while PTI leaders say it is in fact a public rejection of the PML-N and PDM statements.
There is no doubt that the victory of PTI is an expression of confidence of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, but the accusations and protests of the opposition parties cannot be ignored, because election rigging is a new thing in our country nor is it a new thing to make allegations of rigging after the elections. The losers have always made similar allegations against their opponents, but it is a very dangerous trend to steal votes and change the election results at will. Therefore, in view of the sensitivity of Gilgit-Baltistan, a transparent investigation should be carried out instead of keeping silent by declaring the allegations of the opposition as mere political rhetoric, so that everything becomes clear. Otherwise, the enemy of the country is already waiting for the opportunity, if the noise of protests and rigging increases, the enemy can take advantage.
It is clear that Gilgit-Baltistan is a sensitive area and the decision to integrate it into Pakistan is being taken in view of the security interests of the country. Due to the geographical importance of Gilgit, this area is very important for Pakistan’s security. For the completion of the Pak-China Economic Corridor project, the peace of Gilgit and ending the political sense of deprivation of the people here is crucial. During the election campaign in GB, some trends have come to light that there is a special love for Pakistani forces in the region. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan believe that in case of any difficulty or natural calamity, only soldiers come to rescue. In the recent election campaign, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz has been discussing Nawaz Sharif’s statement instead of the problems of the local population. This statement was considered foreign and unrealistic for the people of GB, which is why the PML-N, despite being in power in the past, has failed miserably. The PPP has historically played a key role in the reform process for the region. The local population values these services, but joining the PDM and bad governance in Sindh has played a key role in defeating the PPP.
Some things have proved to be very important in the PTI’s victory, including the alliance with dynamic and active groups at the local level. In addition, promises were made to provide new bridges, hospitals and jobs to the local population. Residents of Gilgit-Baltistan have seen the performance of both the old parties and are confident that the PTI will take the process of constitutional reform forward and make GB the fifth province of Pakistan. The traditional reason for the PTI’s victory is that Gilgit-Baltistan is usually ruled by the party that is in power at the center. Given the election results, the PTI government is certain. It is to be hoped that CPEC, along with new economic plans in GB, will make people’s lives easier, the PTI will take timely steps to give GB the status of a province in response to the long-standing demand of the local population.
After the peaceful completion of the election process in Gilgit-Baltistan, what seemed to be a flurry of activity or results, was not very local, but the arrival of the major national political parties was a must, but the GB’s peaceful and civilized political circles, regardless of party or constituency, have to keep a close eye on it. The opposition should also get out of the politics of accusations and put the interest of the country and the nation before its own political interest. Defeat is part of the election, the opposition should not pave way for unrest in the region under the guise of protests, given the seriousness of the situation, important personalities from Gilgit-Baltistan have demanded the formation of a grand Jirga, so that a middle ground can be found.The Prime Minister Imran Khan has also called on the opposition to enact legislation to make the elections transparent, so as to ensure the prevention of electoral fraud. If the opposition really wants to address electoral weaknesses beyond self-interest, they will have to support the government in passing legislation in parliament. In this way the spark of iniquity can be extinguished before it ignites or if the spark of this rigging is set on fire instead of being extinguished immediately, then the peace of the country along with Gilgit-Baltistan will be ruined.