GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly on Tuesday adopted a unanimous resolution demanding of the federal government to declare GB as the constitutional province of Pakistan.

The resolution was tabled by Pakistan People’s Party member Imran Nadeem Shigri, and Islami Tehreek-i-Pakistan’s Captain (r) Mohammad Shafi.

The resolution noted that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan won freedom from Dogora Raj and joined Pakistan without any condition in 1948.

Since then GB has been deprived of basic rights, particularly constitutional rights, said the resolution.

It demanded that GB be given representation in the National Assembly and Senate till solution of the Kashmir issue in light of the United Nations resolutions. It suggested that a committee should be formed to determine constitutional status of the region.

Speaking in the house, PML-N’s Aurangzeb Advocate said people of the region used Pakistani passport and paid taxes imposed by Islamabad, besides Supreme Court of Pakistan’s jurisdiction had been extended to GB, but even then the region wasn’t given the constitutional statues.

He said the GB Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009 had no protection under the constitution of Pakistan.

Mr Aurangzab demanded that in light of the Supreme Court of Pakistan verdict of 1999, the constitutional issue of GB should be solved once for all. He also condemned AJK leaders for opposing provincial status for GB.

Taking part in the debate, Deputy Speaker Jaffarullah Khan said a committee headed by Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had been set up to settle the constitutional status of the region. PPP member Imran Nadeem Shigri said bureaucracy of Pakistan remained a main hurdle to resolution of the matter.

He said when military dictator Ziaul Haq imposed martial law, the then Northern Areas were also declared a martial law zone while the AJK was exempted.

He said before execution of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project, the constitutional status of the region should be settled. Opposing the resolution nationalist leader Nawaz Naji said GB was disputed territory and demanded that the region should be declared provisional province till solution of the Kashmir issue.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2015

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