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Govt ready to accommodate more Gilgit-Baltistan demands: Abbasi

Updated May 28, 2018

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PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addresses a joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly and the GB Council 
on Sunday.
PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addresses a joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly and the GB Council on Sunday.

GILGIT: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the newly promulgated Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 has transferred all the powers to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who will enjoy similar rights which the people of other provinces have without any discrimination.

“All subjects under the 18th Constitution Amendment have been shifted to the Gilgit-Baltistan government, yet if the GB representatives have some more demands, we can include [them] in the order, [as] our government is still left some days,” vowed PM Abbasi while addressing a joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly and GB Council on Sunday.

“From today I as the prime minster and Barjees Tahir as federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan have become powerless as far as the affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan are concerned. All the powers have been shifted to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and no one can abolish the powers which we have transferred to them.

PM says people of Gilgit-Baltistan have been granted rights which other Pakistanis have

“Now onwards the governor as well as all GB High Court judges, including chief justice, will be appointed from Gilgit-Baltistan,” Mr Abbasi said, adding that the GB Council would function as an advisory body.

He said it was amazing that some opposition parties were protesting against the law. If they had listened, they would have noticed that all powers had already been transferred to local representatives under the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, which did not need legislation through the parliament. “If legislation through the parliament was needed, we could have done it as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz enjoys majority in the house,” said Mr Abbasi.

Referring to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the premier expressed the hope that GB would be the most prosperous and developed area of the country under the project. He suggested locals to become aware of CPEC benefits and start working to reap maximum benefits of the project.

He said the international issues related to the region might go on, but it was a proud moment for the government as GB people would have same rights which the people of other parts of the country enjoyed.

Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Mohammad Barjees Tahir, members of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly and GB council attended the session.

Earlier during his address, Chief Minister Hafeez-ur-Rehman thanked PM Abbasi and termed his visit a milestone in the history of GB. While he had just started his speech, Leader of the Opposition in GB Assembly Mohammad Shafi Khan stood up from his seat and interrupted the CM to say GB people had principally rejected the order.

“How can GB be governed through orders?” he asked, arguing that the GB should be granted the status of the AJK-like set-up if there was any complication to declare GB as constitutional part of Pakistan. However, he questioned, why the people of GB had been deprived from their constitutional and fundamental rights in the name of Kashmir.

Mr Khan announced that the opposition parties had decided principally not to accept any order without constitutional protection. He said the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the India-held Kashmir had dual citizenship and enjoyed all basic rights.

Protests

Other opposition members Javed Hussain of Pakistan Peoples Party, Raja Jahanzeb of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Nawaz Naji of Balawaristan National Front stood up and shouted the slogan “orders not accepted”. The opposition lawmakers also tore apart the copies of the agenda.

During the protest, a scuffle erupted between opposition and ruling party members. PML-N lawmaker retired Major Mohammad Amin and PTI legislator Raja Jahanzeb, who had arrived on crutches to attend the session, came to blows before the opposition staged a walkout.

Following the walkout by the opposition, the prime minister began his speech.

Meanwhile, a complete strike was observed across Gilgit-Baltistan on the call of joint opposition.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2018

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