Gilgit-Baltistan goes to polls today

ISLAMABAD: As the clock struck 12, the time allotted for electioneering in Gilgit-Baltistan came to an end Friday night, with the people all set to vote on Sunday (today).

For those who didn’t stop campaigning, the region’s chief election commissioner warned of legal action for violating rules. He, however, also dismissed allegations of fraud and rigging by the opposition as ‘premature’ and ‘baseless’.

A total of 745,361 voters will be voting for 23 constituencies at 1,160 polling stations. The region’s administration said at least 15,900 law enforcement personnel would be deployed for security purposes.

Out of the 847 polling booths, 418 have been declared highly sensitive, 311 sensitive and 431 normal.

Stringent security measures have been taken for voting to elect 24 members of Gilgit Baltistan Assembly for which 320 candidates have been in the field, say media reports.

The polls will be held under comprehensive security arrangement. Government spokesman Faizullah Firaq has assured the people of fair and free polls.

The Election Commission facilitated disabled voters to cast their vote before the polls, according to a report.

Police Chief Dr. Mujeebur Rehman said they had arranged deployment of police force from the entire country. Troops could also be deployed for assistance if required, he added.

Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner Raja Shahbaz Khan said all arrangements had been finalized for holding free, fair and transparent elections.

In the 33-member house, six seats are reserved for women and three for technocrats.

The chief secretary Gilgit Baltistan has announced three holidays from Saturday on account of elections.

Surveys by Gallup and Pulse Consultant revealed a close contest between PTI and PPP, while the PML-N comes third.

The surveys found PM Imran Khan as the most popular leader in GB followed by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.

Around 30% of voters believe elections will be transparent and free of rigging.

When asked about which political party they would vote for on 15th Nov (the Election Day), the 27% of Gallup respondents said they would vote for PTI, 24% said PPP, and 14% said PML-N.

On the other hand, 35% of Pulse Consultant respondents said they would vote for PTI, 26% said PPP and 14% said PML-N. Gallup survey shows there is a gap of only 3% between the PTI and PPP as the first choice of voters. However, in the Pulse survey, the gap between the two leading parties is 9% but the trend is the same – PTI is the first choice, PPP second and PML-N third.

This article originally appeared on The News International