GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly unanimously approved a resolution on Saturday demanding the federal government stop collecting taxes on goods imported from China through the Khunjerab Pass.

Another resolution adopted by the house urged the centre to appoint judges to the GB Supreme Appellate Court.

The resolution on taxes, tabled by the opposition member Javed Ali Manwa, also expressed concerns over the suspension of trade activities between Pakistan and China through the Khunjerab Pass.

The house demanded the federal government and president abolish sales tax, income tax and federal excise duty collected from local traders on imported goods.

Bill to increase CM’s benefits causes uproar in assembly

It said local traders should be incentivised to import items from China under the Pak-China Border Trade Agreement, 1984 and provided with a conducive environment for bilateral trade.

They should be allowed free delivery of up to four tonnes of commercial goods from China to GB.

After the resolution was favoured by opposition and treasury members, Speaker Nazir Ahmed announced its unanimous adoption.

Appointment of judges

Another resolution, tabled by treasury member Amjad Hussain advocate, stated that according to the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, the Supreme Appellate, the highest court of appeal in the region, should have a chief judge and two judges.

The resolution added the Supreme Appellate Court CJ was appointed by the premier on Nov 4, 2022, and a summary of the appointment of the remaining two judges is also pending with the PM due to stay orders issued by the Supreme Court. “[T]he appointment of judge of Supreme Appellate Court GB is being delayed since long due to the stay order passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan restraining the appointment of Judges of Supreme Appellate Court GB,” the resolution said while referring to the order issued on petition filed by ex-CM Khalid Khurshid.

The Supreme Appellate Court GB has remained dysfunctional for over five years, which amounts to the “denial of fundamental rights” as provided under the Constitution of 1973 and the GB order 2018.

The house urged the Centre to move the SC to vacate its stay order.

Separately, the house broke into a noisy protest over an amendment to the law governing the chief minister’s salary and benefits.

GB minister Ghulam Mohammad tabled a bill seeking amendment in the Chief Minister GB (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act of 2021 to increase CM benefits and discretionary funds. It also called for establishing a separate camp office in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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