Latitude: Pakistan caught in Baluchistan quagmire? – Part 2

Notwithstanding India’s objection, Pakistan held legislative assembly elections in the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region amid tight security. It is the second time Pakistan is holding polls to elect a regional legislature after devolution of powers in 2009 which changed the region’s name from Northern Areas to Gilgit-Baltistan and provided it with a local assembly. According to the election commission of Pakistan (ECP), about 6,18,364 registered voters were expected to exercise their franchise to elect six members of the assembly from Skardu district, four from Diamer, three each from Gilgit, Hunza Nagar, Ghizer and Ganche and two from Astor.

Reacting strongly to the upcoming elections in Gilgit and Baltistan on June 8, India said it is an attempt by Pakistan to “camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation” of the regions which are integral part of the country. Official spokesperson in the external affairs ministry Vikas Swarup also expressed concern at the “continued efforts” by Pakistan to deny the people of the region their political rights and to absorb these territories. South western province of Balochistan is facing a low-level insurgency by Baloch nationalists who want greater control over mineral resources. The law and order situation has been compounded by the presence of Taliban militants who attack the forces and civilians.

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