HUNZA: While politicking for the by-elections on the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly seat from Hunza is at its peak, progressive leader Baba Jan has emerged as the only ray of hope for the people against feudal and family politics in the area.

The by-elections on the seat, which fell vacant after the appointment of Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan as the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, will be held on May 28. The ruling PML-N has allotted the party ticket to Mirís son, Prince Salim, a decision which even has divided the ruling party into factions.

With the ruling party facing factions due to the undemocratic decision and for ignoring the senior party leaders of the area, the area peopleís memory of PPP days sufferings when the Attabad lake crisis hit them has not faded away and they have certainly no soft corners for the candidate of the party. They have already rejected the PPP in the whole area during the elections last year.

The PTI has fielded a candidate who due to his political immaturity is still a long way to go to gain sympathies of the voters. Another candidate, Col retired Obaidullah Baig is being accused of using the sectarian card to win the votes. And in such a situation, Awami Worker Party leader and progressive leader Baba Jan has emerged as the only ray of hope for the people of the area.

While all means and tactics are being used by the candidates and their backers, common perception about the politically novice candidate of the PML-N is that he is scatting on a very thin ice and have won opposition even I his own party circles. The main reason for this is, he got the ticket directly and in an undemocratic manner from the PML-N chief and prime minister Nawaz Sharif using the influence of his father. In this process, the partyís Gilgit-Baltistan chapter was kept in the dark and bypassed, bringing anger and ire from the local leaders. Secondly, the PML-N candidate is not politically popular as he has never been seen to visit any house in the area to express sympathy or happiness in hard and happy times. Instead, there are allegations that Prince Salim made a Rs600 million corruption in the Sost dry port.

The PPP has allotted ticket to Wazir Baig, its stalwart and former speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly. Though he is an outspoken and senior leader of the PPP, during the tenure of his party a citizen and his son were gunned down when they were among hundreds of protesters demanding compensation for the Attabad lake displacement. The previous PPP government added salt to the wounds of the area people by registering fake FIR against them instead of punishing the police officials for opening fire on the peaceful protesters. This is still fresh in the minds of the local people and they are not likely to go for voting for the PPP candidate as the party did nothing for the area even when it was in power.

Keeping all these in mind, the youth of the area, living in their homes or staying outside, are campaigning for the progressive leader Baba Jan through the social media. Baba Jan has been behind bars I bogus cases only because he raised a voice for the people of the area at all forums. It was Baba Jan who also organized the people of Hunza to raise voice against the previous governmentís injustices with the people of Attabad after they were hit by the natural calamity and left without any help. So the tides seem to be running in favour of this man instead of all the odds.

Objections dismissed: An election tribunal allowed progressive leader Baba Jan to contest the forthcoming by-election for the seat of Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly from Hunza after rejecting objections against his candidature. The objections were filed by PPP leader Zafar Iqbal saying that Jan was a convict from the local court and cannot contest the polls. However, the court was informed that Jan had been acquitted from the case while another was under trial and he has not been found guilty of any offence. After hearing both the sides, the tribunal dismissed the objections against Baba Jan.

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