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Riots in Gilgit-Baltistan over election results

Riots in GB over election results

GILGIT: The workers of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and police clashed here on Monday, as the former protested against the unofficial results of Gilgit-Baltistan A-2, Gilgit-2 constituency.

DIG Waqas Ahmed said the PPP workers termed the results rigged and held a protest. Demonstrations were also staged in several areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, including Skardu and Chilas.

Violence erupted soon after the clash when the agitated protesters torched a government building and four vehicles. According to the DIG, an estimated 20-25 people were involved in terrorism.

There were reports of clashes with the police on the River View Road and various other places. Additional police contingents were deployed in the wake of tense situation. The PPP leadership strongly condemned the violence against its protesting workers.

“After stealing the Gilgit-Baltistan elections, the federal government is now resorting to violence,” said Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, spokesmen for the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a statement.

He said the people were protesting peacefully against the theft of their votes by the federal government, but they were clubbed, tear-gassed and fired upon. He said the CEC went back on the agreement that no result would be announced in GB-2 constituency before completion of forensic analysis of votes.

”The entire record of election in GB-2 is missing at the behest of the CEC,” he said, adding that the government wanted to create a law and order situation through violence against the peaceful protestors.

“How is it possible that the PPP received the most votes but the PTI got the most seats?” He said people would not tolerate this fascist government anymore. “If the situation goes out of control in GB, then the CEC Raja Shahbaz and the federal government will be held responsible,” he warned. "Our workers have the right to peaceful protest against rigging in Gilgit-Baltistan," said a statement issued by Sherry Rehman. Shelling and firing on peaceful protesters is reprehensible, she said.

Sherry said the PTI had gone blind in its greed for power. Those who kept hostage the whole country for 126 days cannot tolerate the peaceful protests of the PPP, she said, alleging that the workers conspired to create chaos by burning vehicles. She alleged that the Chief Election Commissioner sided with the PTI. “He is not conducting a forensic audit of the votes as per the agreement.” She said those who closed the whole country on the basis of four constituencies were not conducting forensic audit of one constituency on the PPP’s demand.

“We will not allow the rigged model of 2018 to run in Gilgit-Baltistan. The fraudulent government has now been exposed.” PPP Senator Maula Bakhsh Chandio said that violence against the protesters in Gilgit was shameful.

“Bullets and shelling on our workers in Gilgit is the federal government’s blind revenge. The results of the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan elections will be dire.” Chandio asked who was being served by torturing people in a sensitive area.

“Act responsibly and stop trying to play with the fire. The agreement reached by the Chief Election Commissioner on Gilgit-Baltistan Constituency-II should be fulfilled. Disclosure of results without forensic voting is evidence of fraud.”

Meanwhile, PPP leader from Gilgit-Baltistan Saadia Danish criticised the CEC and accused him of hiding the results of constituency-2.

She said it seemed as though the CEC was a PTI worker and warned that his attitude would lead to deterioration in the law and order in the area. Responding to the PPP leaders' criticism, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said after defeat in the Gilgit-Baltistan election, the opposition should have known their political status. "The frustration of the PDM leaders was palpable yesterday," he said. He said the NRO seeking PDM leaders were roaming about the streets. "Their rallies are a threat to the employment of people, not to the government," he added.

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Educational institutions closing down from 26th

By Jamila Achakzai

ISLAMABAD: Clearing up the confusion about winter break for students, the federal and provincial governments on Monday finally reached a consensus on closing the educational institutions for in-person learning to stem the surging coronavirus incidence.

“After examining the record spike in COVID-19 cases and fears of the virus spread, we [education ministers] have agreed on the suspension of in-person classes and start of virtual learning in universities, colleges, schools, seminaries and tuition centres from November 26 to December 24. All educational institutions will stay closed from December 15 to January 10 on account of winter vacation and resume classes on January 11,” Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood told a presser here after chairing a virtual meeting of the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ Conference.

Since the start of the second coronavirus wave lately, both the Centre and provinces had been uncertain whether to announce the routine winter vacation or not in the light of the student learning loss caused by the pandemic-induced campus closures in the last summer season.

The NCOC, the nerve centre for the country’s fight against COVID-19, has already recommended early and prolonged winter vacationin the educational institutions saying students and their teachers have emerged as one of the major spreaders of coronavirus in the country. More and more schools and colleges are being closed after the detection of virus.

He said homework would be given out to students online and if that wasn’t possible, the provinces would decide about the course of action by themselves but all efforts would be made to ensure that education continued from home.

“We will review the COVID-19 incidence in the first week of January and decide about the schools reopening accordingly. God willing, educational institutions will reopen on January 11,” he said.

Shafqat Mehmood said all examinations scheduled for December had been postponed until January 15 but some professional exams would be held as scheduled earlier. He said the universities would begin online learning, while their hostels would be allowed to house students up to one third of their capacity.

The minister said educational institutions would decide if teachers needed to show up on campus or stay home to take classes. “We have recommended that board exams that were scheduled for March or April be pushed forward until May and June. This is because when educational institutions will reopen, students get time to complete their coursework. Also, there is a recommendation to postpone the new academic year, which begins in April in government schools, until August after the reduction of the next summer vacation,” he said.

The minister said all those recommendations would go to the NCOC for a decision. Meanwhile, the private schools and colleges have opposed more campus closures and insisted that COVID-19 was spreading due to the violation of government guidelines in markets, large functions, parks and other public places.

They claimed that they’re strictly enforcing SOPs on their premises for coronavirus prevention and control, so their closures were unjustified and would hit them and their employees really hard especially when they’re still reeling from the huge losses caused by the six-month-long summer shutdown.