Month: October 2010

Gilgit-Baltistan: Government approves filling 2400 new jobs

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GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah on Friday approved filling of 2,400 newly created posts, saying that the appointments will be made strictly on merit. “The decision to this effect was taken in the cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister,” Information Minister Ali Madad Sher told The Express Tribune after the meeting.

The information minister said that apart from other sectors, the education sector will have 600 posts. Aside from this, there will be 350 posts in the health sector, 36 posts in the livestock sector, 350 posts in water and power department, 246 posts in agriculture and 333 posts in the newly-formed district of Hunza-Nagar.

This was the fourth cabinet meeting since its formation earlier this year. The cabinet members presented individual progress reports, Sher said, adding that the chief minister expressed satisfaction over their performance and stressed the need to further improve it. The chief minister also asked the ministers to submit a report on incomplete projects of their respective departments and issued directives to hold quarterly meetings of the cabinet to review the pace and progress of the ongoing schemes.

Taking exception to the use of government vehicles, the chief minister asked authorities concerned to curtail expenditure and reduce burden on the national exchequer. “The officials will have one vehicle with them and neither their children nor the officials themselves will be allowed to drive the vehicles,” said the provincial information minister, adding that the policy is in line with the one issued by the prime minister.

He also said that Chief Minister Shah asked the chief secretary to ensure that all the officials seek prior permission before leaving G-B for official visits.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010


Gilgit-Baltistan: Promotion of Precious Stones

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GILGIT: In the hopes of introducing precious stones to the international market, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Mehdi Shah plans to visit China, sources said on Wednesday.

“The stones found in the mountains of G-B are rare, and if these are introduced to the international market, not only the economy of G-B but also that of the whole country can improve,” said an official.

The delegation, led by the chief minister, will consist of 17-members including some traders who specialise in the buying and selling of gemstones. Officials in Gilgit said that the event is to be held in Kashgar and will be well attended by several international delegations.

The Chief Minister and his delegation are hoping to attract traders. “It will be a good opportunity for the Pakistani delegation to create links with other countries and investors so that they can visit the region and invest in this sector too,” said an official from the G-B commerce and industry.

Precious stones are abundantly found in G-B but the lack of expertise in locating and skillfully extracting them is the biggest hurdle being faced by the local people in the area.

According to experts, more than 60 varieties of gems and stones are found in G-B; Topaz, Quartz, Albite, Apatite, Beryl to name a few.

“Special lectures highlighting the importance of gemstones in the international market and the ways to access the international market will also be delivered during the conference,” officials said.

The economy of G-B is based on the traditional route of trade through the Silk Road. The China Trade Organisation was the leading economic forum through which most of the barter trade activity was made changing in the general economical outlook of the area.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2010.

Gilgit-Baltistan: NEC Reconstituted

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ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari, on the advice of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, approved composition of the National Economic Council (NEC) under the 18th Amendment, on Wednesday.

The PM will chair the council, whereas ministers for finance, communication, health and housing and works would be its members. Chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan will also be members of the council. Other members from provinces include Senator Ishaq Dar from Punjab, Adviser to Sindh chief minister Planning and Development (P&D), senior minister for P&D and power from KP, Balochistan finance minister and Gilgit-Baltistan chief secretary. KP governor, AJK prime minister and chief secretary would be invited by special invitation.

Courtesy: Daily Times October 28, 2010

Gilgit-Baltistan:The suo motu notice taken by the GB Supreme Appellate court failed to put PWD in order

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GILGIT: The people of Gilgit have been let down by the new provincial government of Mehdi Shah after economic and domestic life in the area has been crippled as a result of long hours of power outages.

Usmania Muhalla in the Kashrote area is one of the worst hit areas where blackouts last for more than 60 hours bringing the daily lives of people to a standstill. “When we ask officials why these power outages are so long we are give unsatisfactory answers,” a housewife told The Express Tribune.

Locals believe that the sole reason behind these long unannounced power failures is corruption. “Can anybody tell me why the situation has deteriorated so much?” Imran Ali, a tailor in the region asked. “The expectations that we had from the Mehdi Shah government have not been met.” “No one is questioning the Public Works Department (PWD) officials,” he said.

The suo motu notice taken by the Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate court recently failed to put the PWD in order. “Out of 18 mega watts, only 6 mega watts of electricity is generated at this time in the biggest Naltar Hydel Power Project due to a decrease in the water level,” a PWD official said. He said that due to the non-availability of funds, the damages caused by the recent floods have not been repaired. “An amount of Rs15 million is required to repair the damages in the hydel power project in GB,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials at the Kashrote power station claim that because of an overload at least two transformers have short circuited. “The rest of the transformers cannot handle the load,” an official at the power station in Kashrote said.

Officials at the power station said that they delay in repairing the transformers were because they were unable to get hold of the damaged parts. The situation in other parts of Gilgit isn’t rosy either. The Basin, Amphery, Khomer, Jutial and Nagral areas have also been hit by breakdown making it difficult for locals to continue with their daily lives.

During Pervez Musharaff’s regime an 18 mega watt Naltar Hydel Power Project was constructed in 2008 costing Rs1.5 billion but failed to meet the power demands of the region. Similarly, the hydel power projects at Guru Jaglot and Kargah were also unable to produce enough power.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2010

Gilgit-Baltistan: Strict action against government employees

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GILGIT: Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Mehdi Shah has warned that strict action will be taken against government employees if they allowed their sectarian identities to affect their jobs.

He was referring to the three policemen who were arrested by security forces in connection with killing civilians  belonging to rival sects in Gilgit, an episode which had created panic in government circles.

“I warn all government employees to not work for their sects (it can be sectarian organisation), if they still persist in doing so then they will no longer be tolerated,” said Shah on Tuesday while addressing a seminar organised by an NGO, Plan Pakistan, in Gilgit .

Gilgit has had a history of sectarian violence since the early 1970s. In August, at least 10 people died in target killings and many were injured during a fresh wave of violence. The chief minister in an attempt to discourage the trend posted over 50 policemen from the violence-scarred Gilgit to other districts.

NGO launch

Plan Pakistan has launched in Gilgit-Baltistan and aims to end corporal punishment in schools, which is common in government schools in the region as it is considered an essential part of education.

“The teacher has a pivotal role in society and hence should be a role model,” said Shah, adding that his government would act against everyone who was politicising the educational institutions in Gilgit-Baltistan to achieve their personal objectives. He was referring to strikes by the teaching staff which had resulted in the removal of the principal of cadet college Skardu this week.

Earlier the education minister, Ali Madad Sher, announced plans to make two model schools in every district in order to lift the quality of education in all the schools.

He offered his support to the NGO saying that punishment should be banned in schools so that it did not leave a negative impact on the minds of children.

Wasim Yaqoob, the director of the NGO, said that they would train schoolteachers to provide a child-friendly education to students.

Courtesy: Express Tribune, October 27th, 2010.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Exploring Socio-Economic Prospects

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by Junaid Kamal

GILGIT BALTISTAN — about two million people scattered over a territory of 72,496 square kilometres — presents a rich mix of different cultures, languages, plants, animals and habitats. It is a landscape dominated by high peaks, rivers, lakes, glaciers, wild plateaus, and narrow valleys linked by networks of passes.

Gilgit Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas) has a unique role to play in the sustainable development of Pakistan. Although spans a relatively small geographical area, GB serves as a vital catchment for the Indus River, upon which a majority of Pakistan’s irrigated agriculture and hydroelectricity depends.

Containing some of the world’s largest freshwater resources on which the irrigated agriculture of Punjab and Sindh depends, the estimated hydroelectric potential in Gilgit Baltistan goes beyond Pakistan’s current needs.

People of Gilgit Baltistan finally got their identification and political rights in the present government of Pakistan People’s Party through Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009.

The Order still needs a constitutional cover-up to make it an act of Parliament. Renaming the Northern Areas as Gilgit Baltistan is perhaps the most significant part of the deal as this change in nomenclature will help people regain their lost identity and go a long way in resurrecting the tourism industry in an area otherwise devastated by the Taliban.

Ongoing mega projects like the Diamer dam and Satpara dam further necessitates that Gilgit -Baltistan be brought into the mainstream and that its people be given a voice in national decision-making so that the region’s public representatives can also take part in inter-provincial deliberations to safeguard socio-economic interests. Gilgit Baltistan offers abundant water resources for energy which if tapped judiciously can produce electricity not only for the area but also for the rest of the country.

The people of Gilgit Baltistan are naturally peace-loving, patriotic and courageous. A disaster on Jan 4 in the Attaabad village of Hunza has got the attention of the entire world, when a landsliding buried the village of Attaabad in which 20 people lost their lives and countless got the tag-name IDPs.

Those who were killed in the tragedy, and those still missing, could have been saved had the state shown more interest than it did. However, measures have been taken by the government later on to rescue the people and make arrangements for the survival of the IDPs.

The most important task for the government is to maintain peace and harmony in the region. Until the war on terror began, Gilgit Baltistan was a major destination for foreign tourists, thus contributing to the national economy. This potential resource must be explored through concrete plans that include investment, establishing well-equipped tourist centres and mountaineering training institutes.

Junaid Kamal

Gilgit-Baltistan: Gilani advises Zardari to reconstitute NEC

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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to reconstitute the National Economic Council (NEC) by including the Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister and chief secretary as members and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, AJK prime minister and chief secretary as special guests at the NEC meeting. In this regard, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday advised President Zardari to reconstitute the National Economic Council (NEC) by including these people. The NEC is the apex economic decision-making body of the federation having representation from all federating units at the level of chief ministers, finance ministers and planning and development ministers from the federal and provincial governments. NEC, headed by the PM, approves the federal government’s Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), provincial governments’ annual development plans (ADPs) as well as the macro-economic framework of the country at the start of each fiscal year. It also endorses the recommendations of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), headed by the federal finance minister. staff report

courtesy: Daily Times October 23, 2010