Gilgit Baltistan, November 15 (ANI): Counting of votes began in multiple cities of Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan after polling in the controversial elections ended on Sunday evening.
The voting process in the region began at 8 am and continued until 5 pm without any interval.
The elections were held amidst protest by people of Gilgit Baltistan against the Pakistan government's "illegal occupation" in the region
On November 1, Pakistan Prime Minister Khan had announced granting of provisional-provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan despite the ongoing protests against the Pakistan government over its decision to change the status of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Those living in Gilgit-Baltistan hit the streets and said that they will never accept Pakistan's involvement in their region.
The Pakistan Peoples Party has demanded that candidates of the ruling PTI be disqualified from the election alleging rigging.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who has been in the region for weeks and leading the party's political campaign, said that the election commission must not fail the people and should ensure that "every vote is cast and counted".
"The people's enthusiasm is a testament to their commitment to democracy," he said.
PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari demanded that candidates of the ruling PTI be disqualified from the election.
"The announcement of development projects during an election is a clear sign of rigging. The presence of government ministers in GB is tantamount to influencing the election," he said in a statement, adding that PTI candidates from areas where projects have been announced should be disqualified.
"Efforts to influence the election are proving fears of rigging," he said.
Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi responded to accusations by the opposition of pre-poll rigging.
"Parties win and lose, it is a part of politics. But the people's trust in the election process must be maintained," he said. He added that the opposition had gotten a "full opportunity" to campaign amid a peaceful environment.
As many as 330 candidates from 23 constituencies are in the fray.
According to Geo News, surveys by Gallup and Pulse Consultant revealed that a close contest is set to take place between Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan Peoples' Party, while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is in the third position.
Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen are also among the parties contesting the Gilgit-Baltistan polls.
India has opposed Pakistan's plan to hold an election in Gilgit-Baltistan.
"Any action by Pakistan to alter the status of the militarily-occupied so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan' has no legal basis whatsoever and is totally void ab-initio," Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Anurag Srivastava said at a virtual media briefing in September. "Our position has always been clear and consistent. The entire territories of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been and are an integral part of India and would remain so," Srivastava had said. (ANI)