Islamabad, May 1: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the country’s federal government to conduct the coming general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) under the Election Act 2017 and amend the related law to install a caretaker government for conducting polls.
The five-year term of the incumbent government of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) is due to expire in the last week of June whereas next general elections in the region will become due within 60 days after the expiry of the GB Legislative Assembly.
“After hearing the parties we allowed the federal government’s application with consensus, the reasons of which will be recorded later,” Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said, as reported by Dawn news.
As explained by Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan, the amendments will be made by promulgating a presidential order.
Headed by the chief justice, a seven-judge Supreme Court bench had taken up the federal government’s application seeking amendments to the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 to conduct general elections by adopting the Election Act 2017 and subsequent rules/regulations and setting up a caretaker government during the interim period. However, the apex court said it would take up other pending petitions about the status of GB, like a contempt of court case against the federal government, after the Eid holidays.
Prior to bringing amendments, the AG explained, the government had to look and analyse the regional situation of the area before implementing the apex court’s Jan 17, 2019 verdict which asked for the rights of the citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Under the judgement, the federal government is required to enact the Gilgit-Baltistan Governance Reforms 2019 by tabling a bill before the parliament of Pakistan for bringing required amendments.
In the absence of GB Governance Reforms 2019, the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 is still in the field. However, the 2018 order lacks provisions that provide mechanism for installation of a caretaker government after the expiry of the GB Legislative Assembly.
Through its application, the federal government had requested the Supreme Court to allow it to make necessary amendments to the Government of GB Order 2018 to install a caretaker government and conduct elections for the GB assembly till the promulgation of the proposed reforms in the territory.
Permission was also sought for adapting the Election Act 2017 and the rules/regulations under it and for doing all that was necessary to continue electoral process in the area.