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How Will India React To Elections In Gilgit Baltistan, A Region Claimed By New Delhi?

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Pakistani President Arif Alvi has promulgated a presidential order to form a caretaker government and conduct elections in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) a region claimed by India.

The order was passed on Saturday and is an extension of the Elections Act 2017 to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). The latest development in GB comes two weeks after India had lodged a strong protest over the planned election in the region.

According to a notification issued by the Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan on Saturday, President Alvi promulgated the “Gilgit-Baltistan Election and Caretaker Amendment Order, 2020” to conduct transparent elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. The current GB term will come to an end on June 24.

The existing Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 SRO number 704 (1), 2018 was amended and the presidential order inserted a new Article, “48-A”. The order will now be called the “Gilgit-Baltistan (Elections and Caretaker Government) Amendment Order, 2020” Under Article 48-A of the Elections Act 2017, all rules and regulations as are enforced in Pakistan would be adopted in the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party president for Gilgit-Baltistan, Syed Jaffar Shah, also spoke about the new order and said that it would allow the formation of a caretaker government, provisions which did not exist before. Shah remains confident that elections would be conducted on time and that the caretaker government would take care of all necessary arrangements.

While he admitted that COVID-19 would not have an impact on the elections, special arrangements and precaution would be necessary as well as following all social distancing norms.

Tightening Grip On Gilgit-Baltistan

According to experts speaking to EurAsian Times, the latest move is an attempt by Pakistan to assert its claim over the Gilgit-Baltistan region. This follows the recent decision to award a Chinese company a contract to construct the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in the same region.

Pakistan and China claim that the planned construction will ensure the development and well-being of the local population.

New Delhi had recently protested against the planned construction of the $15 million projects in the territory it claims to illegally occupied by Pakistan. India maintains its position on Gilgit-Baltistan and says that that the entire region of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh has been, is and will continue to be an integral and inalienable part of India.

Even though China rejected India’s protest, New Delhi was not hesitant to issue a warning and reminded Beijing that the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir is part of India.”

India has been actively protesting over Pakistan actions in Gilgit-Baltistan. New Delhi has already issued a demarche and since the beginning of the month refers to its meteorological sub-division of Jammu and Kashmir as “Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad.”  The Indian army claims that it is ready to take action in Pak-controlled Kashmir and reclaim the region.

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