Two surveys conducted by Gallup Pakistan and Pulse Consultant have shown that the upcoming elections in Gilgit-Baltistan will be very closely contested between the PTI and PPP. Both surveys put PTI ahead of the PPP, while the PML-N has been placed at the third position.
In Gallup Pakistan's survey, respondents were asked which political party they would vote for on 15th Nov (the Election Day). In response, 27 percent said they would vote for PTI, 24 percent said PPP, and 14 percent said PML-Nhttps://t.co/GHlDodaHTB#GilgitBaltistan
— Gallup Pakistan (@GallupPak) November 11, 2020
The surveys show that PM Imran Khan is the most popular leader in GB followed by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. Around 30 percent of voters believe elections will be transparent and free of rigging.
The respondents were asked which political party they would vote for on 15th Nov (the Election Day). In response, 27 percent of Gallup respondents said theywould vote for PTI, 24 percent said PPP, and 14 percent said PML-N.
Similarly, 35 percent of Pulse Consultant respondents said they would vote for PTI, 26 percent said PPP and 14 percent said PML-N. Gallup survey shows there is a gap of only 3 percent between the PTI and PPP as the first choice of voters. In Pulse survey this gap is 9 percent. But the trend is the same – PTI is the first choice, PPP second and PML-N third.
The respondents were asked if the upcoming provincial election would be fair and without any rigging. As per the Pulse survey, 29 percent of voters believed the elections will be transparent, 51 percent said they could not say anything while 20 percent said they will not be transparent.
As per the Gallup survey, 31 percent said elections would be completely fair, 29 percent said they would be fair to some extent, 28 percent said they could not say anything, 7 percent said elections will be fair to some extent while 5 percent said they would not be fair at all.
Load shedding, lack of hospitals, poor education, poor infrastructure, and clean drinking water were the major problems cited by respondents of Gilgit-Baltistan in the two surveys. Gallup survey shows that 66 percent of Gilgit-Baltistan locals are in favor of converting GB into a province, 28 percent were against it.
PTI to rig elections, allege PML-N
Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhary, Secretary-General of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has alleged the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of rigging the upcoming elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. The PML-N told Shahzeb Khanzada, a prominent Pakistani anchorperson, on GEO News that “we see PTI is making all efforts to rig this election”. “If the election is rigged, it will ultimately help India equate its barbaric steps in the occupied Kashmir with that of what happens in GB,” he added.
Delivered petition to Chief Election Commissioner about pre-poll rigging in GB election. Proofs of postal ballot frauds submitted but no action. PM & Ministers violating code of conduct blatantly but no action. Replay of GE 2018 in GB will be a disaster. pic.twitter.com/DUKwl4ERVl
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) November 9, 2020
This publication has reported several times as to what is going on in GB. Journalists on the ground and local politicians have a clear understanding of who is going to win the election. “Generally, GB elects the party in power in Islamabad,” Haroon Rasheed, a prominent Pakistani journalist and political commentator, recently noted on 92 channel.
Electoral dynamics in GB
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.
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.
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.
Who will win the election?
The real battle is, argue analysts, between PPP and PTI. Several key local leaders have recently joined PTI.
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.