Pakistan will hold general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan on August 18, the government has announced after the country’s top court allowed holding of polls in the region, notwithstanding India”s strong protest to Islamabad for its efforts to bring “material change” to the territories under its “illegal and forcible” occupation.

The Pakistan Supreme Court on April 30 allowed the government to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region.

President Arif Alvi on Saturday approved August 18, 2020 as the poll day for general elections to the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Legislative Assembly, according to a statement from the President House.

The GB Election Commission will hold the elections in 24 constituencies, according to the statement.

The Gilgit-Baltistan order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorising the Prime Minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects.

India last month issued a demarche to a senior Pakistani diplomat in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest over the apex court ruling.

India also clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly” occupied by it.

President Alvi last month promulgated an order to form a caretaker government and for extension of the Elections Act 2017 of Pakistan to Gilgit-Baltistan.

The GB legislative assembly was dissolved on completion of its term on June 24.

The federal government has appointed Mir Afzal, a former deputy inspector general of police, as the “caretaker chief minister”.