GILGIT  -  Gilgit-Baltistan Caretaker Chief Minister Mir Afzal Khan has said that caretaker provincial government has the capacity to hold free, fair and transparent elections.

While talking to reporters along with Chief Secretary Khuram Agha here on Friday, he appealed to the leadership of all political parties for cooperation and implementation of COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) during the upcoming elections in GB.

Chief Minister said that all possible measures are being taken to ensure foolproof security arrangements during the elections. He further said, “Our security agencies have the capacity of providing security for upcoming elections.” The CM also added that Pak army may take over the security of polling stations in case of emergency.

He refuted the allegations of leadership of some political parties during All Parties Conference (APC) in Islamabad regarding pre-poll rigging during upcoming elections in GB.

Chief Minister GB added that if any caretaker minister of GB found campaigning for a political party or candidates, strict action will be taken against him.

Chief Secretary Khuram Agha on the occasion said that currently Gilgit-Baltistan was among the most peaceful areas of the country and added that people of the area were very cooperative, peaceful and well educated. For conducting free, fair and transparent elections, he said, provincial government was assisting Election Commission GB.

According to media reports, Chief Minister Mir Afzal also said that no assistance would be taken from the Pakistan Army in the upcoming elections for the Legislative Assembly. Afzal went on to say that help would only be taken from police and paramilitary forces during the elections.  “We shall prove that police and paramilitary forces have full capability to ensure peaceful elections,” he said. “We will set an example for the whole country by conducting GB elections without [help from] the army,” he added. 

However, army officials could be posted in “sensitive areas” depending on the conditions, he said. Afzal said the caretaker government was “neutral” and would investigate if evidence of rigging was found.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) banned the prime minister and other government officials from visiting GB until elections have been held.

Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Election Commissioner Raja Shahbaz Khan, in a press conference, said that according to the rules of conduct of the election commission, no government official could visit the region or run an election campaign. He said the PML-N had lost control of its workers and was now levelling allegations of “political engineering” against the ECP.

Expressing the resolve to conduct “transparent elections at any cost”, Khan said help would be taken from GB Scouts, Rangers, police and Frontier Corps. Elections on the 24 general seats of the GB Legislative Assembly will be held on November 15.

for the whole country by conducting GB elections without [help from] the army,” he added. However, army officials could be posted in “sensitive areas” depending on the conditions, he said. Afzal said the caretaker government was “neutral” and would investigate if evidence of rigging was found. Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) banned the prime minister and other government officials from visiting GB until elections have been held.  Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Election Commissioner Raja Shahbaz Khan, in a press conference, said that according to the rules of conduct of the election commission, no government official could visit the region or run an election campaign.