Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Thursday embarked on a seven-day trip to Gilgit-Baltistan to spearhead the party’s campaign for general elections in the region slated for November 15.
Taking to Twitter this morning, she said: “Onboard the plane to GB for PMLN election campaign Insha’Allah.” She is scheduled to land in Skardu and visit Ghawari later today to address a rally.
She will address a public meeting in Skardu on Friday and in Dambudas on Saturday. She will also address rallies in Ghokooch, Astor and Challas on November 8, 10 and 11, respectively.
Maryam will also lead a rally to be taken out from Shigar to Skardu on November 06.
Gilgit-Baltistan was previously known as the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA). It is an autonomous region in northern Pakistan with separate government and electoral systems. In 1970, it became a single administrative unit called the Northern Areas under administrative control of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas, formed from the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar.
Number of seats and voters
GB has 24 constituencies and its assembly has 33 seats. Candidates from political parties will stand for 24 seats. Of the remaining seats, six are reserved for women and three for technocrats. The area has a population of about 1.3 million and a total of 745,361 voters have registered, of which roughly half or 33.
Who is contesting?
A total of 330 people are standing in these elections. The PML-Q is fielding candidates in 14 constituencies. And the PTI has issued party tickets to 22 people and expressed its support for Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen’s candidates in two constituencies.
The PPP, which suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the PML-N in 2015, announced candidates for all 24 constituencies. Many of the PPP candidates are seasoned politicians and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is running the campaign.9,992 are women.
Who will win the election?
The real battle is, argue analysts, between PPP and PTI. Several key local leaders have recently joined PTI.
Future of GB must be decided by their empowered Assembly elected thru free and fair elections and not in semi dark corridors of Islamabad or Rawalpindi. Abolish GB Council & transfer its powers to GB Assembly. Stop cheating people of GB. My take on it. https://t.co/uViGqxsm1P— Farhatullah Babar (@FarhatullahB) October 2, 2020
Fida Muhammad Nashad, who became Speaker after the 2015 elections, has been awarded a PTI ticket, he added. Other former PML-N minister and MPAs who have joined PTI include former provincial minister Dr Muhammad Iqbal, Haider Khan, and Ibrahim Sanai.
SAMAA Digital reported that GB Chief Election Commissioner Raja Shehbaz Khan has that transparent elections will be held for the transfer of power. Police and security personnel will be deputed at polling stations while the Pakistan Army will be positioned outside sensitive polling stations.
Political analysts are of the view that the PML-N might have won some seats had Nawaz not followed a controversial anti-army narrative in his recent speeches. At the moment, there is no significant presence of the party as local leaders are either joining the PTI or PPP, argue independent analysts. “We see a different type of politics in GB now. PPP and PML-N are on the same page to counter the establishment but in GB they are contesting elections without getting hard on each other,” Nouman Ahmad, a GB-based journalist told GVS.
Notably, Uzma Bukhari of PML-N has clarified in a show on ARY News that PPP and PML-N are two separate political parties, and their only collective goal is to challenge the establishment. “We are two different political parties. Don’t consider us as a merged political party,” she told Waseem Badami.
The current political trends suggest that the PPP and PTI are likely to claim electoral win. PML-N seems to be in troubled waters because of its inability to have local leaders in the party.