GILGIT, Sept 28: Elections should be held under an independent caretaker setup because the region cannot afford protests in the name of rigging, advised Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Chief Minister Mehdi Shah. The tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in GB will come to an end on December 12.
Speaking to journalists, the chief minister insisted GB should not be allowed to turn into the breeding ground for protests which Islamabad has become. He pledged support for a caretaker government that would consult opposition leaders to avert demonstrations of the same magnitude as the Azadi and Inqilab marches in Islamabad.
Over the past month, Islamabad has been in the grip of protests by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). The protesting parties have accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of rigging the general elections of 2013. However, the continuing demonstrations have shackled the country’s economy and business sector.
With the current government a few months away from completing its appointed tenure, the absence of clear provisions for an interim government in the GB Governance Order 2009 has fanned speculations about the role of the PPP government in conducting elections in the region. However, Shah does not want the incumbent government to get involved in the electoral process.
“The option has been under consideration but I have strongly opposed it,” he said. The GB CM expressed satisfaction that the PPP government had completed it terms despite all odds. By doing so, the government proved all sceptics wrong who had predicted the government would collapse within its first year in power, he added.
The chief minister lauded the reconciliatory approach adopted by his party’s co-chairperson Asif. He insisted his government had never endorsed political victimisation and hoped the trend would continue.–Express Tribune