The Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit-Baltistan on Monday suspended an order by the Chief Court that barred members of Pakistan’s Parliament, including PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, from campaigning for the region’s upcoming elections. The decision will remain in place until the Supreme Appellate Court announces a final verdict in the case, which was filed by the PPP on Saturday, a day after the Chief Court ordered Bilawal, federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur and other public office holders to leave the region within 72 hours for violating the code of conduct for elections. As a result of the verdict, which was issued verbally, members of Parliament will be able to stay in GB and participate in election campaigns until the case is wrapped up. The next hearing of the case is scheduled for November 12. On Friday last week, a two-member bench of the Chief Court comprising Chief Judge Malik Haq Nawaz and Ali Baig ordered to expel from the boundary of GB all those individuals who fall in the ambit of para 18 of the code of conduct framed for the Gilgit-Baltistan general elections 2020, within three days of passing of the order. The order was passed on PPP’s GB chapter Vice President Jamil Ahmed’s petition with the GB Chief Court pleading to expel federal ministers and public office holders from GB till the conclusion of the election on November 15 for violating elections code of conduct. The code of conduct under the Election Act of 2017 bars public office holders, including the President and Prime Minister, chairman and deputy chairman of Senate, speaker and deputy speaker of an assembly, federal ministers, ministers of state, governors, chief ministers, provincial ministers, advisers to the premier and chief ministers, mayors, chairman, nazims and their deputies, from taking part in election drives in any manner whatsoever. The Chief Court’s order referred to the definition of public office holder as per National Accountability (NAB) Ordinance 1999 that includes members of parliament as well. The court order said that public office holder “has not been defined as who will be placed in the category of public office holder”. The term has been defined in the NAB ordinance and it mentions barring the elected members of assemblies and Senate from running an election campaign. While addressing a press conference in Gilgit on Friday, GB Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Raja Shahbaz Khan asked the PPP chairman and federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur and other public office holders to leave the territory to implement the court order. However, PPP’s GB chapter President Advocate Amjad Hussain had said that since Bilawal is not a public office holder, the election code of conduct allows him to participate in the election campaign. Following today’s verdict by the Supreme Appellate Court, Advocate Hussain said that the suspension order does not apply to federal ministers who are participating in election campaigns in GB as they are public office holders. He added that by staying and continuing campaigning for elections in GB, the public office holders were committing contempt of court.