Pakistan’s opposition takes on both the government and the army

ELECTIONS AMID the craggy splendour of Gilgit-Baltistan are usually of interest only to its residents—if them. The region at the northern tip of Pakistan is home to five of the 14 mountains in the world that exceed 8,000 metres, but contains only 1% of Pakistan’s population. The pragmatic locals tend to vote for the party that runs the national government. Moreover, the local assembly has limited powers, since the region is not a province, but merely a territory, being part of Kashmir, which India and Pakistan both claim and which they divided by war in 1947.

It was odd, therefore, to see Pakistan’s political elite campaigning furiously in Gilgit-Baltistan ahead of elections to the assembly on November 15th. A new opposition alliance was hoping that the vote would prove its mettle. The prime minister, Imran Khan, was eager to show that his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) retained public support.

To curry favour with the locals, Mr Khan announced at a campaign rally in the town of Gilgit on November 1st that his government would confer provincial status on the region. Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Mr Khan’s predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, spent a week in the region trying to drum up support for his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N). While there, she met her fellow dynast and leader of the Pakistan Peoples...

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