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Event Title: Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan

Event Date: 2020-11-03

The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan was held on Tuesday at Parliament House to discuss the various aspects of the upcoming elections in Gilgit-Baltistan on 15th November, 2020.

Chaired by Senator Professor Sajid Mir; the meeting was attended by Senator Najma Hameed, Senator Lt. Gen (R) SalahuddinTirmizi, Senator Liaqat Khan Tarakai, Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi and senior officers from Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir Council.

The Committee was informed that security arrangements for 745000 voters and are in full swing and that special measures are being taken to deal with the COVID 19 threat in wake of rising cases.  On directions of CEC GB, DCs/DMS can impose section on unauthorized public gatherings/rallies/celebration rallies. Raising of controversial slogans and unlawful use of loudspeakers and aerial firing fall under this ambit as well.  DCs/DROs and SSPs shall ensure compliance to code of conduct issued by Chief Election Commissioner. 

Regarding logistics in snowbound areas, the Committee was informed that measures are being taken to ensure smooth transportation of election materials, poling staff and ROs to far-flung areas. Helicopter will be requisitioned from the Army for arrangements in these areas. Landline telephones will be installed in all snowbound areas. 

The Committee was informed that a COVID Code of Conduct has been issued by CEC GB, according to which no political gatherings will be conducted in smart lockdown areas.  PPEs and shields will be provided to poling staff. Compliance of SOPs will be mandatory. 

The Committee, in wake of Prime Minister’s statement on the occasion of commemoration of the 73rd Independence Day celebrations of the region, raised objections saying that government machinery must not be used to make political statements.  This occasion and podium was uncalled for this statement.   The Committee stressed the need for all out efforts to ensure free and fair elections.