Gilgit City; 21 July 2020 – Chief Election Commissioner Gilgit Baltistan Raja Shahbaz Khan has said that the chief court will decide the new schedule of the elections of GB legislature because the case is being heard there. We are ready to hold free, fair, peaceful elections in October November of 2020. Most of the elections in GB were held in the same two months.
In his very first interview to any journalist, CEC noted that no one exert any pressure on our work. People of GB know us very well.
Raja Shahbaz Khan is former Judge of Anti-Terrorism Court. He awarded death sentence to 79 terrorists that served a lot in bringing peace and security in the region at a time when sectarian terrorism was at its peak in GB. One of his most discussed death sentence was for Altaf Hussain, MQM Chief.
CEC said that our decision about postponement of election is right and all political parties were in favor of this decision. Election in mid August was not possible. And all parties were and are in same line.We did not have enough time for that.
” There was no law of election and care taker government in GB since October 2017. We were unable to serve in this situation. On 15 May the President of Pakistan promulgated Election & Care Taker Government Amendment Order 2020 on the advice of Prime Minister.It was only then that we were empowered to make arrangements for the election.” Raja Shahbaz Khan replied to a question.
“Now another problem was Corona pandemic. Its SoP’s do not allow public gatherings and time for arrangements was also very short. Inspite of all these obstacles , we issued the election schedule for mid August elections on 2 July 2020. It was not possible for political parties even to contest elections in this short span of time. Therefore political circles challenged the schedule in Chief Court of GB and the schedule was suspended on 10 July 2020. Election Commission accepted this ruling and issued notification of suspension of schedule issued on very next day. Chief Court will give the date in its next date most probably.” CEC elaborated.
To a question about how the consensus of political parties was measured , Raja Shahbaz Khan replied that all parties conference was called to discuss the 3 problems in holding the elections in August. The problems were 1- Promulgation of concerned order late on 15 May 2020 , 2- Short Time 3- Corona Pandemic & its SoPs. All parties agreed that election in August is impossible. Former CM, President PMLN GB Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman and President PPP GB Amjad Hussain were also present in this APC. Therefore, no one can say that any one is not in favor of postponement of election in August.
CEC further noted that election will be held on updated voter lists in accordance with NADRA record. We have to include one hundred thousand new voters and exclude 15 thousand votes that went to their eternal abode. Senior NADRA officials are here in GB to help us in this regard. Our staff is working hard to prepare updated lists. We have completed this task in almost all districts of three divisions of GB. The lists will be displayed at public places for check and we will welcome if someone intends to point out any correction.
Here it is worth mentioning that GB is a sensitive region and it was badly hit by sectarian clashes. Answering a question regarding the apprehensions of disturbance during election campaigns, CEC said that no one will be allowed to break law and order. We will not let anyone affect peaceful and free, fair holding of elections. People of GB know us very well.