GILGIT: The members of the opposition and treasury benches in the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly have passed a unanimous resolution, urging the federal government to transfer the authority to amend the GB Order 2018 to the GB Assembly.

In addition, the GB Assembly has called for appointments to the GB Supreme Appellate Court and Chief Court to be made through a judicial commission. They have also demanded a resolution to the allocation of GB’s financial share in the National Finance Commission (NFC).

During the GB Assembly session, presided over by deputy speaker Sadia Danish on Friday evening, the opposition leader Kazim Mesum, along with opposition members Ayub Waziri and Javed Ali Manwa, presented a resolution. The resolution highlights the concerns of the house on the powers conferred to legislation, administration, and judiciary in GB and the technical and legal challenges for complete provincial autonomy.

It said until the constitutional status of the region is settled and provisional province status is granted, amendment in GB order 2018 should be given to GB Assembly. The resolution said until GB becomes a formal part of the NFC, a financial agreement should be established with GB to define its financial share based on the NFC’s pattern.

Unanimously demands judicial commission for appointments in Supreme Appellate Court and Chief Court; calls for resolution on GB’s financial share in NFC

It demanded the enforcement of the 2019 verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to ensure the appointment of judges to the highest echelons of the judiciary, including the GB Supreme Appellate Court and Chief Court, through judicial commission.

Javed Ali, while presenting the resolution, highlighted that the people of GB have been engaged in a seven-decade-long struggle to become constitutional part of Pakistan. He said that unfortunately the GB Assembly has no power to amend the presidential order, “GB 2018”, through which GB is being governed. The lawmaker said until GB’s inclusion as a constitutional part of Pakistan, GB Assembly should be empowered to amend the law.

“There are flaws in rules of business to legislation on important matters for better governance,” he regretted. He said the GB government depends on the federal government for financial grants, as the financial share of GB has not been defined in the NFC. He said a fiscal agreement with the GB government is needed to ensure GB’s financial share.

Another opposition member, Ayub Waziri said the GB residents are deprived of the rights enjoyed by people in other parts of the country. He said the federal government has not treated the people of GB equally in comparison to those from other parts of the country. With both the opposition and treasury benches members showing support for the resolution, Deputy Speaker Sadia Danish announced the unanimous adoption of the resolution.

On Jan 17, 2019, the SC had issued a landmark judgement on the legal status and constitutional rights of the people of GB. For the past 70 years, GB has been administered through ad hoc presidential decrees, the latest being the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, issued by the outgoing PML-N government that diluted the already limited constitutional rights conferred on GB in 2009.

In response to a challenge against the order, the court directed the federation to prepare a fresh draft for GB’s governance, keeping in view the Sartaj Aziz committee report. In compliance, the sitting government submitted the draft GB governance reform order, 2019.

Meanwhile, talking on calling attention, Javed Ali Manwa said ice addiction rapidly increasing among the local youth.

He said the illicit drug addiction need prevention. He emphasised the need to tackle this illicit drug addiction and urged law enforcement agencies to actively control and prevent ice addiction.

On Saturday, exercising the authority vested under Section 53 of the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, GB Governor Syed Mehdi Shah prorogued the ongoing 23rd session of the GB Assembly.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2023

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