Pakistan will conduct elections for Gilgit Baltistan Assembly amidst strong objections from India, date announced

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The President of Pakistan issued a statement saying that general elections will be held on 15 November in Gilgit Baltistan Assembly.

Despite India’s strong objections, Pakistan has announced to hold elections for the assembly of Gilgit Baltistan on November 15. Earlier elections in the strategically important region were postponed. President Dr. Arif Alvi issued a notification in this regard on Wednesday.

The statement said, “The President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan declares that general elections will be held in the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly on Sunday, 15 November 2020 under Section 57 (1) of the Elections Act 2017”.

What has India said?

India has told Pakistan that the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh, including Gilgit Baltistan, was fully legislated and permanently merged with India and is therefore an integral part of the country. India said that Pakistan’s government or its judiciary Has no authority over the areas which were illegally occupied.

It said that India completely rejects such action and India’s efforts to make concrete changes in the areas occupied by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. Rather, Pakistan should immediately evacuate these occupied areas illegally.

Elections were to be held in Gilgit Baltistan on 18 August, but the Election Commission postponed the election process on 11 July in view of Corona virus infection.

The announcement of new dates for elections has been taken amid reports of Gilgit Baltistan being given full province status. The issue was discussed in a meeting between opposition parties and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on 16 September.

Bajwa and Hameed held the meeting on September 16, which included about 15 leaders in the National Assembly, including Leader of Opposition Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) President Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, according to the news of The Dawn.

Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid confirmed the meeting and its partners, saying that the meeting was held to discuss the pending changes in the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Opposition, however, used the occasion to express their concerns over other issues, particularly the alleged interference of the army in politics and the persecution of its leaders in the name of accountability.

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