GILGIT-BALTISTAN: With the results seemingly in favour of Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Gilgit Baltistan, massive protests continue in the illegally occupied region alleging poll rigging in the Legislative Assembly elections.
The elections were held on Sunday in Gilgit-Baltistan in 24 constituencies of the Legislative Assembly.
Thousands of people turned up on the streets, carrying flags to protest against the rigged polls.
While speaking to his supporters, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: “Your mandate has been stolen. The votes of Gilgit-Baltistan have been stolen.”
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif was also seen addressing a crowd of protesters.
One of the protesters said: “Whoever oppresses us, we will stand up against them and die fighting. Today, through pre-poll rigging our mandate has been stolen. Till our demands are not met, we will continue protesting.”
Meanwhile, human rights activist Amjad Ayub Mirza said that the Gilgit-Baltistan elections were a ‘scam’.
“There has been a scam in the Gilgit-Baltistan elections. From three areas, the polling boxes were stolen, and so, the two big leaders of Pakistan, Bilawal and Maryam, have refused to accept the outcome of the elections. Bilawal has also stated that if the three seats, which were previously won by PPP but later lost through a scam, are not returned, he will not leave Gilgit-Baltistan,” said Mirza.
According to sources, thousands of people had taken to the streets in Skardu and Gilgit areas against vote-rigging in the elections on Monday, with incidents of several tires being set on fire and many roads blocked for hours were reported in the region.
Bilawal had alleged rigging in three constituencies. Addressing a sit-in in Gilgit, he said rigging was made to snatch the mandate of PPP in Gilgit 1, Ghizer 3 and a constituency in Skardu.
Dawn quoted Bilawal as saying at a press conference that results were manipulated “overnight” for elections on seats that the PPP was winning and the party was declared to have lost them during the day.
In addition, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif claimed that Imran Khan’s PTI won a few seats in Gilgit Baltistan’s elections through ‘rigging’, ‘bullying’, and with the help of turncoats.
Maryam, on her Twitter, wrote that Imran’s PTI failing to achieve an absolute majority in the northern region (illegally occupied) is a “shameful defeat” for the incumbent government, the News International reported.
Elections were held amidst relentless protest by the people of Gilgit Baltistan against the Pakistan government’s “illegal occupation” in the region.
India has slammed Pakistan for its decision to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and said any action to alter the status of the militarily-occupied region has no legal basis.