Pakistan's Moves On Gilgit Baltistan Angers Maryam Nawaz; Army's Locus Standi Questioned


On Wednesday, Pakistan President Arif Alvi approved polls to be conducted for the Legislative Assembly of illegally occupied Gilgit Baltistan on November 15.


On Wednesday, Pakistan President Arif Alvi approved elections to be conducted for the Legislative Assembly of illegally occupied Gilgit Baltistan on November 15. This is seen as an outcome of a meeting held recently at the Pakistan Army's Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. Government representatives and opposition leaders such as PML(N)'s Shehbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and PPP's Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sherry Rehman participated in discussions with the military high command, including Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Bajwa and ISI DG Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed. 

As per local media reports, there was also a consensus in the meeting on making GB a full province of Pakistan. This echoes the sentiment expressed by Pakistan's Kashmir and GB Affairs Minister Ali Amin Gandapur who informed the Parliament that Imran Khan is likely to make a formal announcement on his visit to GB. This development comes despite India's consistent stance that Pakistan must vacate all illegally occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit Baltistan. 

Read: India Shames 'nation Bereft Of Milestones' Pakistan After Imran Doesn't Spare UN 75 Meet

Opposition slams military's interference

However, this latest move orchestrated by Pakistan's military establishment came in for criticism from key opposition leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Speaking to the media in Islamabad, the PML(N) vice president maintained that GB was a political issue that should be handled by elected representatives. Questioning the military's right to take such decisions, she stressed that Parliament was the sole competent forum to decide on the GB issue. 

Key opposition leader Maryam Nawaz remarked, "I don't know where dinner was held or not. The meeting was called on the Gilgit Baltistan issue. Gilgit Baltistan is a political issue. It is an issue that has to be dealt with by government representatives. Such decisions have to be taken in Parliament and not GHQ. I don't know whether Nawaz Sharif was aware of this meeting or not. (The military) should not call the political leaders for such an issue. And neither should the political leaders have gone. Who wants to discuss it can come to the Parliament."

Read: Pakistan's Opposition Unites To Demand Imran Khan's Resignation; Goes To War With Pak Army

Nawaz Sharif launches scathing attack

Earlier on September 20, Maryam Nawaz's father and former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif exposed the military establishment's complete interference in the democratic process. Addressing a conference of opposition parties in Islamabad via video conferencing, he lamented that the sanctity of people's vote has been always trampled upon by the Pakistani Army. To buttress his point, the PML(N) leader highlighted that not a single PM has been allowed to complete the 5-year tenure in Pakistan's history.

Launching a scathing attack on the military, Sharif indicated that the former ran a "parallel government" which was more powerful than the democratically elected government. He described this phenomenon as a "state above the state". According to him, the root cause of Pakistan's problems was the military's refusal to accept the writ of the elected representatives and the existence of a parallel government.

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