In the northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan, the Legislative Assembly has chosen a new leader, despite some legislators boycotting the process. Haji Gulbar Khan, a member of a splinter group from former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has been elected as the new chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Khan secured the coveted position by receiving 19 votes out of 33 in the Legislative Assembly. He gained support from the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a coalition of over a dozen parties led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. However, three other candidates, namely Raja Azam Khan, Javed Ali Manwa, and Raja Zakaria chose not to participate in the election and boycotted the process.
Despite Khan’s party having a majority in the assembly, internal divisions have led to a loss of a key position within the region. Khan’s election follows the disqualification of Khursheed Khalid by the regional High Court earlier this month due to possessing a forged law degree.
Gulzar Khan became a legislator representing the Diamir district in the 2020 elections. He has a history of political involvement, having been elected multiple times to the legislative body from the mainstream religiopolitical party, Jamiat Ulema Islam, since 2009. He joined the PTI in 2020 and has previously served as a minister from 2009 to 2014, as well as from 2020 to 2023.
Gilgit-Baltistan, located along the border with China, was granted autonomous status and a legislative assembly in 2009, having previously been directly governed by Islamabad. The region is renowned for being situated at the convergence of the world’s greatest mountain ranges, including the Karakoram, Himalayas, Hindukush, and Pamir.