Govt announces uplift schemes for GB ahead of polls

Updated 29 Sep 2020

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Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shibli Faraz along with Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Ali Amin Gandapur addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — APP
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shibli Faraz along with Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Ali Amin Gandapur addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — APP

ISLAMABAD: With the general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan just around the corner, the federal government on Monday announced socio-economic development plans worth billions of rupees for the area.

The announcement came at a time when the opposition is accusing the Centre of pre-poll rigging.

Speaking at a press conference along with Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur said the process of provision of health cards to the entire population of GB was under way.

He said each family under the scheme would be entitled to medical facilities worth Rs10,000 annually. He said a project for establishment of a cardiac hospital in GB had been approved during the PML-N’s days in power, but regretted that funds had not been provided for it. He claimed that the PTI government had released substantial funds for the project over the last two years and it would be completed this year.

Army helicopters to pick and drop voters in case of snowfall

Mr Gandapur said work on a 50-bed hospital in Skardu was under way. He said that under a Rs3 billion project covering health, education and tourism, all big hospitals in the northern areas would be provided with MRI and CT scan machines, while small hospitals would also be equipped with necessary machinery. He said ultrasound and digital X-ray facilities would be made available at all basic health units.

The minister announced that a medical college and an engineering university would also be established in GB soon. He said an in-depth survey had been conducted to identify missing facilities in schools and promised that none of the students in GB would have to go to a school without furniture.

He said that Rs2bn soft loans would be given to the people of GB to construct additional rooms in their houses for renting to the tourists, adding that 50 rest houses for tourists were also being built.

Mr Gandapur said efforts were also under way to meet the energy demand. He said two power projects were under progress and two more were in the pipeline. He also mentioned the Diamir-Bhasha dam project. He said the issues of water and roads would also be resolved, adding that a project to connect GB with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through road link had already been approved in the budget.

The minister accused the opposition of using the issue of provisional provincial status for GB for politics. He said the government needed the support of the opposition as a two-thirds majority was required to amend the Constitution.

Mr Gandapur announced that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf will contest the GB polls under an alliance with Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) and said the parties would also form coalition government. He said talks were also under way with Islami Tehreek Pakistan.

Representatives of the MWM also spoke on the occasion.

Meanwhile, a National Assembly panel was informed on Monday that army helicopters would be deployed to pick and drop voters in case of snowfall on polling day in GB.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020