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18 November 2017

General Election in Pakistan and the people of Gilgit Baltistan

Muhammad Zaheer Abbas
The Writer is student of International Islamic University

Gilgit Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas were linked with Kashmir dispute based on the bondage that the Muslim population of the region had with Pakistan. In case of a plebiscite on Kashmir, the region could serve as a cushion for Pakistan.

The Indian occupied Kashmir and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the real disputed regions, are entertaining a well defined constitution, with that political rights and freedom. The people of Gilgit Baltistan, however, remain politically deprived and constitutionally abandoned.

Several amendments have been inducted into the constitution by the government but the constitution does not recognize the region as its territory, not to mention political rights and democratic liberties. People of this region are deprived of any electoral participation in the country’s general elections and they have no representation, whatsoever, in the parliament of the country.

In 2009, Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, an ad-hoc ordinance, was introduced by the PPP government under which the region has its own governor and Chief Minister but neither has a provincial status been given nor a representation in the parliament.

The general elections are around the corner in Pakistan. The 2 million people of Gilgit Baltistan will remain spectators of election in the country. The constitutional vulnerability regarding the region will eventually breed causes with serious implications.