The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has described Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Gilgit-Baltistan and announcement of development projects as pre-poll rigging by the ruling PML-N and lodged a complaint with the region’s election commissioner.
In February this year, the PTI leadership had criticised the federal government for appointing governor, caretaker chief minister and chief election commissioner in GB of its choice to influence the outcome of elections in the region due this summer.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday, Imran Khan said: “It is time the PML-N should learn the essentials of democracy which begins with fair and free elections with a truly neutral caretaker government in place and no attempts to influence polls through pre-poll rigging.” He said Nawaz Sharif had so far not been able to rise above cronyism and use of money to buy influence. “Not satisfied with planting its federal minister Birjees Tahir as Gilgit-Baltistan governor, a biased PML-N caretaker government and an election commissioner, the PM has now announced a so-called development package for the region just before the elections to buy votes and influence the polls,” he said, adding that the ‘brazen pre-poll rigging’ was absolutely not acceptable. In an equally strong response, Information Minister Parvez Rashid said that wherever the PTI chief faced defeat he started crying foul and whenever the government announced development projects he and other leaders of his party “start feeling some kind of pain”.
Minister for Kashmir Affairs Chaudhry Mohammad Birjees Tahir was appointed GB governor in February this year, Karakoram Bank official Sher Jahan Mir caretaker chief minister in December last year and retired judge Syed Tahir Ali Shah chief election commissioner in November. PTI leaders had alleged that the appointments were part of a plan to manipulate results of the election in favour of PML-N candidates. At an earlier press conference, Imran Khan had said that posting a federal minister belonging to Punjab as GB governor was a violation of Article 101 (ii) of the Constitution. The article says: “A person shall not be appointed a governor unless he is qualified to be elected as member of the National Assembly and is not less than 35 years of age and is a registered voter and resident of the province concerned.” In a late-evening development, PTI General Secretary Jahangir Tareen lodged a complaint with the GB election commissioner against the prime minister’s visit to the region. “
On behalf of the PTI, I would like to draw your urgent attention to today’s visit of Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to GB, who is also the President of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). “As you are well aware that only a few weeks ahead of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) elections, the prime minister paid his maiden visit of the current year to the region and announced special financial packages amounting to Rs47.2 billion. “Whereas PTI fully supports the development of the underserved Gilgit-Baltistan, today’s PM visit with heavy packages being announced just two months before the elections is a clear attempt to influence the upcoming GBLA elections. It may please also be noted that Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif did not announce any major uplift package for GB since taking oath of the office of the PM in 2013,” Mr Tareen said in the letter sent to the election commissioner. “That under Articles 218(3) and 220 of the Constitution, Article 6 of the Election Commission Order 2002 and Sections 103 (C) and 104 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976, the Election Commission should take immediate notice of this serious violation which is clearly tantamount to pre-poll rigging and issue a show-cause notice to Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif,” he concludes.