GILGIT: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has decided to abolish the Gilgit-Baltistan Council and transfer its powers to the GB Legislative Assembly.

An official of the GB council on condition of anonymity told Dawn that a high-level meeting was held in Prime Minister House, Islamabad, on Thursday where Mr Abbasi directed the authorities concerned to abolish the Gilgit-Baltistan council within a month.

GB Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and GB, Chaudhry Barjees Tahir, Planning Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz and senior government officials attended the meeting.

The powers currently exercised by the GB Council would be shifted to the elected GB Legislative Assembly. For this purpose, the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan would prepare a draft which would be sent to the law ministry for approval.

After approval from the law ministry, the summary would be presented in the cabinet session for final approval after which a notification would be issued to discontinue functioning of GB and AJK councils.

Powers exercised by the council will be shifted to the elected GB Legislative Assembly

In a separate meeting at the PM House, Prime Minister Abbasi assured Chief Minister Rehman that the government was committed to the socio-economic empowerment and uplift of the GB people.

He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would create new economic opportunities for the people of the region, adding that all proposed projects relating to GB under the its portfolio would be pursued for early finalisation and implementation.

Speaking about the energy situation of the region, the GB minister said the government during the past two years had added 54MW to the existing 82MW power which was being produced in the area for the last 70 years.

The chief minister said the two proposed power projects of total 180MW under CPEC would be instrumental in meeting the energy requirements of the region.

Political reforms in GB

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan recently submitted a report based on the recommendations of a parliamentary body to the federal cabinet, seeking its approval to bring political reforms in GB.

The nine-member constitutional committee headed by Sartaj Aziz — the then adviser to the PM on foreign affairs — was formed by the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Oct 29, 2015, to recommend steps to bring political and constitutional reforms in GB.

Before its presentation in the cabinet, the report — a copy of which is available with Dawn — was submitted to PM Abbasi on Jan 3.

The committee recommended de-facto integration of GB with Pakistan but not a de-jure change since that would affect the country’s principle position on Kashmir. The committee also advised to bring the GB Legislative Assembly on a par with other provincial assemblies, all legislative subjects, other than those enumerated in Article 142 of the Constitution and that its fourth schedule might be devolved from the GB Council to GBLA.

Special arrangements should be made, said the report, for setting up one or more special industrial zones in GB under CPEC to provide larger employment opportunities for its people. It also recommended that GB people should be given special representation in the parliament.

When asked, PPP Gilgit-Baltistan council advocate Amjad Hussain said the party supported the decision to demolish GB Council.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2018

Opinion

The ECI headache
08 May 2021

The ECI headache

The ECI sat mute while BJP held huge rallies without following SOPs.
Engaging the enemy
08 May 2021

Engaging the enemy

The ghost of the Musharraf formula has started to haunt the current backchannel process.
Will OIC confront France?
Updated 08 May 2021

Will OIC confront France?

For Pakistan to keep its GSP-Plus status it will have to show the EU that it treats its blasphemy accused fairly.
Standing by Kashmir
Updated 07 May 2021

Standing by Kashmir

A comprehensive failure of governance is always a comprehensive moral failure of the governors.

Editorial

Updated 08 May 2021

Delayed poll debate

THE debate on electoral reforms is going nowhere. Even though the major political parties say reforms are critical,...
08 May 2021

Reducing deficit

THE numbers show that the government has managed to arrest growth in fiscal deficit — the difference between the...
08 May 2021

Rise in dog bites

ON Wednesday, an unusually high number of dog-bite cases were reported in Larkana, when 19 people — the majority ...
Reprimanding envoys
Updated 07 May 2021

Reprimanding envoys

The prime minister should have engaged with honest and respectable officers to identify how solutions can be found.
07 May 2021

Foreign funding case

THE foreign funding case against the PTI has become a never-ending tale. It has been dragging on for years and after...
07 May 2021

Water woes

IRRIGATION experts have voiced concern over the decline of freshwater flow through Kotri barrage, which has led to...