Month: January 2011

Gilgit-Baltistan: Italian Government Offers Help to Upgrade Skardu Airport

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GILGIT: The Italian government has offered help to upgrade Skardu airport, it has been learnt.

“Italian Ambassador Vincenzo PratiIn made the offer to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Chief Minister Mehdi Shah in a recent meeting in Islamabad,” said a source in the provincial government.

Apart from the airport, they discussed the possibilities of other development projects in Skardu, the capital town of Baltistan that was declared the twin of Italy’s Cortina city in August 2010.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani addressing an election rally in Skardu in 2009 had promised to upgrade Gilgit and Skardu airports but no progress has been made yet.

Baltistan is home to various peaks incluidng the 8,611-meter K2, the second highest peak in the world.

K2 was scaled first by two Italian mountaineers, Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni,on July 31, 1954.

“People in Italy are emotionally attached with Gilgit-Baltistan, particularly Skardu, and declaring it a twin city with Cortina is testimony to it,” he said.

In the meeting, the Italian ambassador told the chief minister that EV-K2-CNR, an Italian NGO, would build 10 schools in Braldo and Hushay valleys in Baltistan, said the source.

He said that construction of two hospitals in G-B was also part of the plans that the ambassador shared with Chief Minister Shah.

A library equipped with information for mountaineering expeditions will also be built in Skardu.

The library will be of immense use for mountaineers attracted by the 18 of the world’s 50 highest peaks located in G-B.

Italy has already been assisting Karakorum International University in Gilgit in the fields of research and higher education, and has indicated an increase in this assistance.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan: Development Projects not Launched on the Basis of Equality

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ISLAMABAD  (January 29, 2011) : A former chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Masood Sharif Khattak, on Friday called for an independent Planning Commission (PC), sans political intervention, to undertake uplift schemes with special focus on the areas that have been ignored in the past.

Speaking at a news conference here at National Press Club, he said that the PC is the only government body responsible for approving multi-billion rupees mega projects, but was being influenced by some powerful politicians and bureaucrats. He suggested setting up of an independent planning commission, on the pattern of judiciary, that could undertake development projects across the board, particularly in areas that have been ignored for the last six decades.

The former IB chief raised serious objections to what he called the over-concentration of uplift projects in selected areas, and added that it was high time to free the 53-year-old Planning Commission of political influence. He said that the government should adopt a uniform policy for undertaking development projects, focusing on the neglected areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

He expressed the view that undertaking multi-billion dollars luxury projects in Islamabad did not augur well for the federation. He opined that the major cause of deprivation and sense of alienation among people in neglected areas of the country was that development projects were not launched on the basis of equality. He warned that the deprived people of backward areas would march on Islamabad, and said that the country could witness a bloody revolution if authorities continued to turn a blind eye towards the development of neglected areas.

Courtesy: Business Recorder

Gilgit-Baltistan: Pir Karam Ali Shah to Sworn in as Governor GB

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GILGIT: Pir Karam Ali Shah will be sworn in as new Governor of Gilgit Baltistan on today (Saturday).

According to media reports, Chief Judge of Applet Court Gilgit Baltistan Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi would administer the oath from new Governor.

Speaker and Deputy Speaker of National Assembly have congratulated Pir Karam Ali for his appointment as a Governor.

Pir Syed Karam Ali Shah is a veteran politician who was first elected unopposed as member of the northern Area Advisory Council in 1970.

He till to-date was the Member NA council, NA legislative Assembly.

Pir Syed Karam Ali Shah was appointed as a new governor of the Gilgit-Baltistan on the sheer advice of the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani after Dr Shama Khalid who died on September 15, 2010.

Gilgit-Baltistan: GB Assembly passed Unanimous Resolution Condeming Recent Blasts in Diamer District and Targeted killings in Gilgit

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GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly passed a unanimous resolution on Friday, condemning the recent blasts in girls schools in Diamer district and targeted killings in Gilgit that have stoked sectarian unrest in the region. They also demanded the arrest of those behind such acts.

The resolution was passed during the first proceedings of the legislative assembly’s 10th session with Speaker Wazir Baig in chair.

Janbaz Khan, a PML-N lawmaker hailing from Diamer district, tabled the resolution that was supported by almost all the members. “It’s the responsibility of the government to take such outlaws to task,” said the lawmaker.

The lawmakers asked people to stand united against all odds, so that the nefarious designs of the enemies would not triumph.

Clerics were urged to play an active role to eradicate militancy and establish durable peace in the region.

Maulana Sarwar Shah, a technocrat, asked the government to uncover the real faces behind the acts of terrorism, if it wanted restoration of peace in the region. He was supported by independent member Didar Ali who said that religious scholars could play an effective role in ridding the society of the menace.

Amina Ansari, a member from the PML-Q, said the series of blasts last month that left three girls schools in Chilas damaged were a conspiracy against development activities and the Diamer Bhasha dam. “An in-depth investigation into these blasts needs to be carried out to foil the nefarious designs of anti-social elements,” she said.

Opposition leader Bashir Ahmed came down hard on the treasury benches saying that the government was not serious in maintaining peace in the region. “It’s strange that not a single perpetrator has been arrested so far,” he said.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan: Attabad Lake spillway was reopened on Thursday on Recommendation of American, Chinese and Nespak Experts

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ISLAMABAD: Attabad Lake spillway was reopened on Thursday on recommendation of American, Chinese and Nespak experts, said a press release. The water flow into the Hunza River after the spillway was opened is about 22,000 cusecs.

As a preventive measure, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), on directives of National Disaster Management Authority, has vacated the low lying areas downstream till the water flow stabilises.

Currently water-level in the lake is lowering at about seven inches per hour. The G-B government has also imposed Section 144 along the river banks to restrict movement.

If things go according to Frontier Works Organisation plan, the water level in the lake will be lowered by an additional 30 metres by May 2011 and the 15 kilometres of the Karakoram Highway currently under water will re-emerge.

The lake was formed last year on January 4 during a landslide that completely buried Attabad village and killed 20 people. About 6,000 people were displaced and a further 25,000 were stranded in the upstream villages.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan:Pre-Feasibility Study had been Completed for Rail Link between Pakistan and China

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ISLAMABAD: Minister of State of Railways Muhammad Afzal Sindhu, on Wednesday, informed the National Assembly that the government has no intention to privatise the Pakistan Railways (PR).

During the NA question-answer session, Sindhu said that the government had no plan to close or privatise the railways, rather steps were being taken to transform it into a profit-oriented entity. He also informed the House that the PR had its own workshop for maintenance of faulty engines and damaged coaches.

The minister said the Railways Ministry had signed two loan agreements with the Export-Import Bank of China (EIBC) on December 14, 2009 for procurement of 75 locomotives and 202 passenger carriages. He said there was a proposal to connect China with Pakistan through a rail link between Havelian in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Khunjirap in Gilgit-Baltistan. The proposal, he added, was still in a preliminary stage as only a pre-feasibility study had been completed while a detailed feasibility was yet to be carried out.

He maintained that that the feasibility study would decide whether the project was financially and economically viable for conducting a detailed feasibility study.

Sindhu also informed the House that a proposal to operate a new air-conditioned business train service between Lahore and Karachi was under consideration, which would be run through the public-private partnership. He added the Railways Ministry had been considering another proposal to purchase used locomotives from South Korea to strengthen its fleet.

In a written reply, the ministry also apprised the National Assembly that the Korean Railways had evinced interest in supplying 50 used 3,000 horsepower locomotives to Pakistan.

Courtesy: The Nation

Gilgit-Baltistan:14 Model schools, 2 each in each Districts of GB with the Assistance of Australian Government

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GILGIT: Australia and the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government have joined hands to provide quality education to people in the north.

“An agreement to this effect has been signed with the Australian government,” G-B Education Minister Dr Ali Madad Sher said on Tuesday.

Under the agreement 14 model schools, two each in every district of the mountain region will be constructed with assistance of the Australian government, Dr Sher said.

Teachers of the model schools will be given special training on modern teaching techniques.

“The model schools will be constructed in all the seven districts,” he said, expecting that the good results of these schools will influence others to follow suit in raising their standards too. He said that only brilliant students would be enrolled in the model schools.

The minister said education department and trainers would monitor and assess the performance of teachers at model schools and give bonuses.

The minister did not say if teachers for the model schools would be taken from existing schools or freshly recruited. However an official in the G-B education department said that a criterion would be developed to pick teachers for the schools and those at par would be selected for teaching in the schools.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune