GILGIT – Staff Reporter:
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf won ten seats and independent candidates won seven, nearly one-third of the total general seats of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) elections, local media reported on Tuesday citing unofficial results, two days after the conclusion of the northern region’s most hotly contested polls marred by allegations of rigging.
Official results are yet to be announced by the election commission though vote counting began at 5pm on Sunday, signaling an end to an election that has been called the most significant the neglected region has ever held.
For the last few weeks, campaigning has been on in full swing in the area, with candidates from Pakistan’s major political parties promising to build infrastructure projects and end decades of neglect in a region that has never officially been part of Pakistan, but forms part of the portion of disputed Kashmir that Pakistan controls.
Both Delhi and Islamabad have claimed all of Kashmir since gaining independence 73 years ago, and have fought two wars over the territory.
“The complete but unofficial results of all the 23 constituencies, where polling was held on Sunday, show that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has emerged as the single largest party with 10 seats, followed by seven independents,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported. The PTI rules in the center and is led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won three seats, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) two and the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM), which had a seat adjustment with the PTI, got one seat,” the newspaper said.
With the possible inclusion of four out of six reserved seats for women, and two out of three reserved seats for technocrats, the total number of seats of the PTI and its allies totals 16 in the 33-member legislative assembly, Dawn reported, “indicating that it will need the support of only one more winning candidate to form the government.”
But as PTI supporters began celebrations over their first-ever victory in the region, the country’s two major opposition parties — the PPP and PML-N — alleged rigging, with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari warning the federal government of “dire consequences if the rigging in elections is not reversed.”
The PPP, which in the last election in 2015 won only one seat in the GB assembly, has won three seats, in Gilgit, Nagar and Ghanche.
Its main accusation relates to the Gilgit-I constituency (GBLA-1) where its candidate Jamil Ahmed was declared the winner on Sunday night with a lead of 400 votes after the final count, but come morning, he had lost the seat by merely two votes.