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Recommendations Being Finalized To Empower Gilgit-Baltistan People...

ISLAMABAD: The Sub-Committee of the Senate Human Rights Committee tasked to recommend amendments in the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order 2009 to empower the people of the area is set to finalise its recommendations in consultation with stakeholders.

This was stated by Senator Farhatullah Babar at a seminar organised by the human rights commission of Pakistan in a local hotel Saturday.

The subcommittee is headed by PPP senator Mian Raza Rabbani and includes Mushahid Hussain Syed and Farhatullah Babar as members.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that in August last the Senate also unanimously adopted a resolution moved by PPP calling upon the government to the people to amend the Empowerment Order 2009. “This unanimous resolution will serve as catalyst for empowering the people and elected GB Assembly,” he said.

He said that the people of GB had voluntarily joined Pakistan and the area has critical geo-strategic importance for Pakistan as the route of Pakistan’s security, foreign policy and economy passes through it.

About deprivations of its people he said that G-B neither has a seat in the Parliament of Pakistan nor a seat in any of the national institutions like the CCI, the NEC, NFC and Irsa.

He said that unlike the provinces it has no share in the profits earned from the hydro-electric power stations located in the territory. “The Gilgit Baltistan is not in the national grid, not even part of a regional grid. It does not even have a Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education and examinations are conducted by the Islamabad Board, he said and asked why? No wonder that the people of G-B not only feel deprived but also cheated,” he added.

He said that 12 member G-B Council, the supreme body, operates from Islamabad and the Council is manned by the bureaucracy of the Federal Government. Under the Rules of Business the powers of the Council are exercised in its name by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan which regulates and controls the administration of GB directly.

The insistence of the bureaucracy to control GB through executive order from Islamabad and refusing to empower its local Assembly amounts to cheating the people of the area. He said it is wrong to say that until a permanent settlement on the status of GB is arrived we cannot do anything for them. This is a ploy of the bureaucracy in Islamabad. Empowerment orders in 1994 and 2009 were issued from Islamabad. The Islamabad based G-B Council has the powers to extend any Pakistani law to GB. Several laws including those against terrorism have been extended to GB, he said and debunked the argument that Pakistani laws cannot be extended.

He said that the Empowerment Order 2009 was issued before the 18th Amendment. The 18th Amendment has set new standards for local autonomy and parliamentary control over the government which must also be applied to GB.

This calls for revisiting the Empowerment Order 2009 with a view to granting more autonomy and to protect the fundamental rights of the people of GB, he said.