Month: January 2011

Gilgit-Baltistan: Tightrope Walk for New Governor

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GILGIT: At long last Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is set to have its governor, a post lying vacant for nearly five months. A notification for the appointment of Pir Karam Ali Shah to the position is likely to be issued on Wednesday.

Opposition parties remain hopeful that the new governor won’t turn out to be yet another ‘Jiyala’.

“He is a seasoned politician and we expect him not to be a Jiyala governor,” said Bashir Ahmed Khan, a PML-Q leader and opposition leader in Gilgit-Baltistan. Khan said that people expect the new governor will forge a consensus among various sects of the region to guide them towards success.

Unlike Punjab, the G-B governor, Pir Karam Ali Shah, was appointed after nearly five months since the death of the first governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Dr Shamma Khalid, who died of cancer. Whereas in Punjab, Latif Khosa took charge as the new governor only days after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer.

Speaker G-B Wazir Baig was made “acting” governor in the interim period. The Pakistan Peoples Party even held a special meeting in Islamabad last month asking President Zardari to appoint a male governor for the region in line with the region’s traditions.

“Pir Karam has vast experience of running government affairs and we hope for the best,” said Hafizur Rehman, provincial chief of PML-N in Gilgit-Baltistan. Rehman said that unlike Punjab or any other province, the G-B governor has even more powers than the chief minister in the constitutional setup, meaning that the position in G-B is far more significant than elsewhere.

However, despite the appointment of Shah, a PPP stalwart and former deputy chief executive G-B, fears of him turning out to be a partisan governor remain alive. “We have tolerated other governors in Punjab too and we just hope for the best,” said Rehman, adding that if the new governor did turn out to be partisan, they would have to devise a strategy in response, accordingly.

A regional politician of a religious party suggested that the governor should learn from past mistakes and avoid confrontation. “If he does so, he will have to face the repercussions,” said the politician, requesting anonymity.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan: NA Bill Proposes 8 National Languages

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will have up to eight national languages — not just Urdu — if a private bill introduced in the National Assembly on Tuesday without any government objection is passed by parliament as a constitutional amendment.

The introduction of the long-pending and potentially divisive bill came after the government said it had no objection to the process, but there was no immediate indication if the ruling Pakistan People`s Party (PPP) would actually back the draft, most of whose 22 authors are its members, with Nawab Mohammad Yusuf Talpur on the top of the list, along with some well-known members of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Q.

It was one of two private bills introduced on the first private members` day of the new session that began on Monday, before Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi adjourned the house until 4pm on Wednesday amid a shouting match between members of the opposition PML-N and government-allied Mutahida Qaumi Movement which was sparked by angry exchanges over a demand made by MQM chief Altaf Hussain in a speech on the previous day for the imposition of martial law in Punjab to check crime rate.

The other bill, tabled earlier by 22 PML-N members, sought to abolish discretionary quotas in housing schemes in the public sector to avoid its misuse and require that allotments be made in a fair, equitable and transparent manner.

What is called the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2011 — a nomenclature that could be changed by the house standing committee on law and justice during its scrutiny — seeks to replace the Article 251 of the constitution that specifies only Urdu as the national language with a new one that says: “The national languages of Pakistan are Balochi, Punjabi, Pushto, Shina/Balti, Sindhi, Saraiki and Urdu.”

The inclusion of `Shina/Balti` — actually two languages cited in one entry — in the list was a surprise oddity as they are among some five major dialects spoken in the Gilgit-Baltistan region which has not been cited in the Constitution as a part of Pakistan, and there are several other dialects spoken by even larger populations such as Hindku in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Brahvi in Balochistan and Gujrati in Sindh.

The bill must be passed by two-thirds majorities in both the National Assembly and the Senate to become part of the Constitution, which underwent two landmark changes — Eighteenth and Nineteenth amendments drafted by an all-party parliamentary committee — last year with consensus in both houses.

But it seems doubtful if the amendment proposed now through a private bill can muster the required two-thirds majority because language has been a sensitive issue from the early days of Pakistan when Urdu was chosen as the only national language to the exclusion of Bengali spoken by the majority of the population living in former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

And any talk of giving national status to some major languages spoken in the country`s four provinces has been viewed with suspicion because of its perceived link with the concept of different nationalities propounded mainly by nationalist parties and demands for the creation of new provinces like one in the Saraiki-speaking south of Punjab or in Pushto-speaking north of Balochistan.

The new bill also provides for continuing English as Pakistan`s official language “until arrangements are made for the national languages to come at par with it” while the original Article 251 says that “arrangements shall be made” for Urdu “being made for official and other purposes within 15 years from the commencing day” and that “the English language may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu”.

Another addition to the article requires the federal government to establish a fund for the development and promotion of national languages “as well as to ensure teaching of Arabic as a compulsory subject at school level” for what an accompanying statement called a better understanding of Islam by the country`s population and Persian as an optional subject “so that regionally we remain connected to our age-old literary traditions of Persian”.

Courtesy: Dawn

Gilgit-Baltistan: Pir Karam Ali Shah to be the New Governor of GB

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ISLAMABAD: The federal government decided on Monday to appoint Pir Karam Ali Shah as the new governor of Gilgit-Baltistan. The post was lying vacant for more than four months after the death of the first G-B Governor Dr Shama Khalid, who died on September 15 last year.

Sources said that the decision was taken by President Asif Ali Zardari in consultation with Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and other party leaders. However, a notification to this effect has not yet been issued. It is likely that the notification will be issued today.

Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig was performing as acting governor since the death of the first governor.

Shah along with G-B Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah held separate meetings with Zardari and the prime minister on Monday. Shah is a sitting member of the G-B Legislative Assembly and is considered one of the stalwarts of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Shah was a close aide of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and also served as the first deputy chief executive of the then Northern Areas Legislative Council under the Legal Framework Order during the first stint of the PPP government in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, several political parties in Gilgit have welcomed appointment of Shah as the governor. “We expect that the new governor will utilise his experience for the development of the region,” Hafiz ur Rehman, the provincial chief of PML-N told the media.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan:Gilani Ordered Feasibility for an All-Weather International Airport and IT University at Gilgit

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ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday directed preparation of a feasibility report for an all- weather international airport and an IT university at Gilgit.

Gilani had announced upgradation of the Gilgit airport in September 2009 to cater to larger aircraft in all weather conditions. Currently bad weather closes down the airport for days.

The airport currently operates from sunrise to sunset and lacks Instrument Landing System and even runway lights. The upgradation of the airport can make it an international hotspot for tourism.

Talking to Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah here at the PM House, Gilani said that the government das decided to establish information technology (IT) universities, particularly in under-developed areas to bring them at par with the rest of the country.

The Chief Minister apprised the Prime Minister of the law and order situation in Gilgit-Baltistan. He said an all parties’ conference was held last week to promote political reconciliation and to seek cooperation for improving law and order in the region.

Gilgit-Baltistan: USEFP Announced TEA Program for Pakistani Teachers

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ISLAMABAD(APP): The United States Educational Foundation Pakistan (USEFP) has announced the Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA) for Pakistani teachers.USEFP official informed APP here that TEA program would provide Pakistani government school teachers with unique opportunities to develop expertise in their subjects.He said programme is offered only to English language teachers and government school teachers of grade 8 to 10 would be eligible for TEA programme.
An intensive eight week professional development program in the United States is focused on building expertise in the best practice teaching methodologies and techniques, he added.
He said women,minorities ,residents of FATA,Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan and other remote areas and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged for this program.
The TEA program for government school teachers of grades 8 to 10 which have minimum five years classroom teaching experience in English subject and in written and spoken English.
Plan to be continue teaching for at least five years after completion of the program and hold at least a Bachelor,s degree, he informed.
He said the selected candidates would enjoy the round trip travel ,housing generally shared with other program fellows, meals, accidents, sickness coverage ,text allowance and maintenance allowance.
The application can be download from http://www.usefpakistan.org and complete application including academic transcripts and two letters of reference must be submitted by the close business March 01,2011.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Sole Objective of according Autonomy to GB was Good Governance and Welfare of the people

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Saturday that the sole objective of according autonomy to Gilgit-Baltistan was good governance and welfare of the people.

He stressed the need for timely implementation of his public announcements made during his visits to Gilgit-Baltistan regarding rehabilitation and development of the area. Talking to Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah at the Prime Minister’s House, Gilani asked him to appoint competent officers at key positions to ensure public welfare. He also enquired about the progress of work on drainage of Attaabad Lake and rehabilitation of flood affectees as well as the infrastructure.

The chief minister informed the PM that the work on digging a 30-metre deep spillway was in progress, which would drain the whole lake. He said that after successful completion of this project, it was expected that the 17 kilometres submerged portion of the Karakoram Highway in the lake would be opened to traffic again.

Gilani directed the CM to make necessary preparation in consultation with the relevant quarters for payment of compensation to the affectees of Diamir-Bhasha Dam. Administrative and financial issues concerning Gilgit-Baltistan also came under discussion during the meeting. During another meeting with Minister For Women Development Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan at the PM’s House, Gilani said that women had to be empowered economically to help them play a positive role in nation building. He said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was committed to take all steps for emancipation of women within religious, cultural and social parameters, in line with late Benazir Bhutto’s vision.

The prime minister expressed confidence that all the provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir would also take initiatives for emancipation of women. He hoped that the provincial governments would make arrangements to implement the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act passed by parliament.

Gilani said the government was aware of social, economic and political challenges being faced by women and assured the minister of the federal government’s support in expediting pending legislation at provincial levels for protection of women.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Gilgit-Baltistan:Taxation Policy, 20 Percent will go to GB Council, 60 Percent to G-B, while 20 Percent to Federation

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GILGIT  (January 22, 2011) : The Gilgit-Baltistan Council has formed a committee for carving out a comprehensive and viable taxation policy. Member Gilgit-Baltistan Council, Amjad Hussain Advocate who is also the chairman of the select committee on Public Accounts told this correspondent that next meeting is being called shortly to work out the task and reach a friendly policy so that it could be implemented in this area for speedy progress and development of the region.

He said the amount of tax will be deposited in the account of Gilgit-Baltistan Council. He said that consultation with Federal Bureau of Revenue has been made so that the revenue generation system in this part of country could be introduced properly. He said that 20 percent of the total amount will go to federation and 20 percent will go to the council, while 60 percent is the share of G-B, he added. The share of G-B would be spent on development of the area besides administrative expenditures, he said.

Courtesy: Business Recorder