MUZAFFARABAD, Nov 8: The constitutional status of Azad Kashmir is the cause of non-payment of the Mangla Dam’s royalty to it by the federal government, as the Article 157 of the Constitution of Pakistan says that share from net profit of hydel power income can only be given to the provinces, the AJK assembly was informed here on Thursday.

Replying to a question by ruling party’s Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, AJK Finance Minister Shah Ghulam Qadir told the house that since Azad Kashmir was not a province of Pakistan, Islamabad could not be made bound to pay to the AJK the royalty of the Mangla Dam.

He said political governments in the AJK had been taking up the issue of royalty with the federal government from time to time. He referred to a decision of the federal ministry of Kashmir affairs of 1973 whereby the AJK government was paid Rs13.3 million as fixed grant-in-aid and Rs100 million as income tax share from Mangla Dam contractors during fiscal years 1973-74 and 1976-77.

The minister stated that the payment of AJK’s budget deficit had also been settled at a meeting with the federal finance secretary in May 1976, following which the AJK government had been paid Rs26.245 million as budget deficit in fiscal year 1976-77. The amount, he added, had kept on increasing in the following years.

He informed the assembly that the demand of the Mangla Dam’s royalty with other issues had been taken up with Pakistan in a working paper in 1986. The federal government, after the enforcement of new financial procedure, had been meeting the difference between the income and expenditures in Azad Kashmir, besides providing the liberated territory its share in federal taxes, he added.

The federal government was also said to have been providing amount for the annual development programme.

Leader of the opposition and AJKPP chief Barrister Sultan Mahmood said that since the federal government was planning to extend the dam, the issue of royalty should be settled in accordance with the wishes of the AJK people.

He asked why Azad Kashmir could not get the royalty of the Mangla Dam if the NWFP could get the royalty of the Tarbela Dam. Opposition’s Sahibzada Ishaq Zafar said the constitution did not hinder the payment of the royalty. Summing up the debate, Shah Ghulam Qadir said the AJK government would continue taking up the royalty issue with the federal government despite the “technical problem.”

Replying to a question by Chaudhry Mohammad Rasheed, Law Minister Raja Nisar Ahmed Khan said work on buildings of 350 primary schools would be completed in three phases under the Northern Education Project.

The minister for electricity, Mir Akbar Khan, told the house that the previous government had approved the re-revised rural electrification scheme (phase-IV) at the cabinet development committee meeting in May, but with a condition that it would be implemented after taking guidelines from Ecnec.

To get the guidelines, he added, the matter was under process at the federal planning division.

LEGISLATION: The house approved three ordinances — AJK Sales Tax (tax on service) Ordinance, 2001, AJK Civil Servants (Amendment) Ordinance, 2001, and the AJK Forest Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2001.

Opinion

Editorial

Afghan puzzle
Updated 28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

Unless these elements are neutralised, it will not be possible to have the upper hand over terrorist groups.
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

Mobs turn into executioners due to the authorities’ helplessness before these elements.
Persistent scourge
28 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...
Mercury rising
Updated 27 May, 2024

Mercury rising

Each of the country's leaders is equally responsible for the deep pit Pakistan seems to have fallen into.
Antibiotic overuse
27 May, 2024

Antibiotic overuse

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance is an escalating crisis claiming some 700,000 lives annually in Pakistan. It is the third...
World Cup team
27 May, 2024

World Cup team

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four...