14 vying for GBLA-13 Astore by-election
Neck-and-neck contest likely among PML-N, PPP, PTI candidates
LAHORE (Dunya Election Cell) – The by-election to GBLA 13-Astore is going to be held tomorrow (Saturday). The seat was vacated after Gilgit-Baltistan's former chief minister Khalid Khurshid was disqualified in a fake degree case.
About 14 candidates, including nine independent candidates, are in the fray in the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly constituency, GBLA-13 Astore.
A tough contest is expected among Khursheed Ahmed Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Rana Farman Ali of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Abdul Hameed Khan of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Similarly, Inayatullah Mir will try his luck in the election from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), while Attaullah will try his luck as a candidate of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan.
The Election Commission of Gilgit-Baltistan has established 56 polling stations in this constituency of Astore district, out of which 31 polling stations have been declared as normal, 12 as sensitive and 13 as highly sensitive.
To make the polling process transparent in the constituency, the number of polling staff has been kept at 264, while 363 officials will perform security duties during polling. The total number of registered voters in the constituency is 33,378, of which 18,231 are male voters and 15,147 female voters.
In the by-election, a tight contest is expected between Rana Farman of the PML-N, Abdul Hameed of the PPP and Khurshid Ahmed Khan of the PTI.
PML-nominee Rana Farman Ali is a former provincial minister. Ali has contested as a candidate of PML-N in the last three general elections from the constituency, out of which he was defeated in the 2009 and 2020 elections, but he won with a large margin in the 2015 elections and was appointed Minister of Local Government.
The PPP has fielded Abdul Hameed, an old player of Gilgit-Baltistan politics. Abdul Hameed Khan was previously a council member for the first time in the 1994 elections and re-elected in the 2004 elections to the Legislative Council and continues to perform his duties as adviser on tourism.
After receiving provincial status under the Presidential Empowerment and Self-Governance Ordinance of 2009, Abdul Hameed Khan also won the first election of the provincial assembly established in Gilgit-Baltistan and remained the secretary for finance, however, in the general elections of 2015 and 2020, he was defeated. The PTI has fielded retired judge Khurshid Khan, the father of former Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid, for a nerve-shattering contest. The PTI has taken this decision on the wish of former Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Khalid Khurshid.
In the general elections of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly held in November 2020, the candidate of the PTI from this constituency, Khalid Khurshid, won by getting 5,297 votes. Among his rival candidates, Rana Farman Ali of PML-N with 4,033 votes was at the second number.
While Abdul Hameed Khan of PPP secured third place with 3,545 votes. Around 16, 298 votes were cast in this election, which was 49 percent of the total vote. The important communities of this constituency include the Shin, Yashkan and Syed communities. This constituency consists of the important areas of Astor district including Trishang, Rato, District Bala, Gadai and Muni Murg.
The total population of Astor district is more than 100,000 and the livelihood of most of them is agriculture and trade.
There are more than 80 schools and colleges in this district and the literacy rate here is about 62 per cent. Most of the population of Astor district speaks Shina language, but their accent is different from Gilgit.
Astore district is second to none in terms of natural beauty and tourism due to the passes like Buzdal Pass, Phaloi Pass, Qumri Pass and Deosai Pass, which have many beautiful places in their habitat including Dumel, Nanga Parbat, Rama, which are charming tourist attractions.