GILGIT-BALTISTAN: The chief election commissioner (CEC) of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on Tuesday announced a number of steps to curtail the administrative powers of the regional government ahead of the upcoming general election for the GB Assembly in a bid to “ensure free and fair elections”.
Earlier in April, the Supreme Court allowed the federal government to conduct the coming general elections in GB under the Election Act 2017 and amend the related law to install a caretaker government for conducting polls. Following the directive, President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday had promulgated the “Gilgit-Baltistan Election and Caretaker Amendment Order, 2020” to form a caretaker setup.
According to a notification issued by the CEC’s office on Tuesday, no government department will be permitted to recruit, post or transfer any employee until the holding of the election.
The only exemption permitted is recruitment done through the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) and the recruitment of potential candidates who were interviewed before May 15.
The notification also halts work on new development projects by the incumbent government, including those being undertaken through community-based initiatives and the utilisation of local government funds.
The notification sparked anger within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government with the government’s political adviser Shams Mir terming the new directives as “undemocratic”.
“This is nothing but an insult to the mandate given by the people to this government for five years,” said Mir speaking to the media in Gilgit.
He also claimed that the notification was issued at the behest of the federal government.
The incumbent assembly is scheduled to dissolve on June 24. The regional election commission is bound to hold the next election within 60 days.
CEC IN GB:
Meanwhile, the composition and formation of the CEC itself in GB has raised legal concerns. The formation of a single-person body has raised skepticism and criticism in the region.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) comprises of the CEC, who is the chairperson of the commission, and four other members – one from each province.
In GB’s case, however, a single person – only the CEC – has been appointed with no other members to support him in the conduct of affairs.
INDIA OPPOSES POLL:
The decision elicited a strong reaction from New Delhi which lodged a protest with Pakistan through a demarche over the Supreme Court’s directive.
According to The Economic Times, New Delhi conveyed its protest to Islamabad over the holding of the general election which it claimed is an effort to bring “material change” to territories under its “illegal and forcible occupation”. Pakistan, however, dismissed the Indian objections.