Month: July 2011

Gilgit-Baltistan: Substandard food and lodging at exorbitant rates from Rawalpindi to Gilgit

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People travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit via the Karakoram Highway (KKH) have complained that hotels on the 600 kilometre-long journey provide substandard services.

Tourists, both foreign and domestic, complained that hotels established along the route to Gilgit in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Bisham, Chilas and Jogulote provide substandard food and lodging at exorbitant rates, and remain unchecked by the relevant authorities. They also complained that the transporters have partnered with specific hotels and refuse to stop at hotels of the passengers’ preference for lodging or food.

Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is known all over the world for its breathtaking beauty and unique topography and attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists, particularly during the summer.

“This could be one of the most fantastic journeys in the world if the government arranges better hotels along the route,” said Amin Khalid, a tourist from Lahore who recently visited Gilgit with his family. He blamed the government for failing to make arrangements to facilitate tourists or even general travellers.

Akhlaq Ahmed, another tourist from Multan said, “First they provide us with food that is substandard and unhygienic, and then they charge us such high rates, it’s ridiculous!” He said there are no proper toilets in these hotels, which is a problem for passengers, particularly those travelling with their families.

He said that the airfare charged by Pakistan International Airlines for Gilgit is substantial, and that, coupled with the unavailability of flights due to bad weather conditions during the summers, causes more people to resort to travelling by bus.

Talking to the The Express Tribune, Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO) Managing Director Zafar Iqbal said that, “The absence of proper hotels for tourists on the KKH is a big issue.”

He said that a lot needs to be done to facilitate passengers, who have to travel for more than 20 hours to reach Gilgit and Skardu from Rawalpindi. He said that NATCO is collaborating with some private parties to set up better hotels along the route in the near future.

Courtesy: Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan:Land acquired in Capital to establish GB Council Secretariat

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ISLAMABAD, Jul 8 (APP): Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo said land measuring 12 canal (One and a half acre) had been acquired from Capital Development Authority (CDA) for buildiung the premises of GB Council Secretariat.Addressing at meeting held to review the performance of newly established GB Council Secretariat here Friday, the minister expressed satisfaction on its working, saying it was going on righ track.
Rules were also approved for recruitment in GB Council Secretariat and the minister directed merit should be the top priority in appointments of new posts. In this respect, Chairman of GB Council Secretariat would give opinion.
The minister approved a suggestion to re-structure the board of Northern Areas Transport Company, and directed opinion of GB Government must be sought in this connection.
Wattoo also approved to set up the Department of Audit and Accounts, Manzil Developmental Company as well as accepted the joint proposal of the Board for Forest Advisory.
He informed progress had been made on negotiation with GB Government for establishing a joint Hydel Development Board.
The GB Government had got approved the proposal of GB Council Secretariat from the cabinet. “Joint hydel Board would be a great success of GB Government and Ministry of KA & GB designed to accelerate power production,” the minister said.
Secretary KA & GB Javed Malik and Joint Secretary GB Council Secretariat Muhammad Shakeel were also present in the meeting.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Death Anniversary of Havaldar Lalak Jan observed

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Ghizer—Death anniversary of Havaldar Lalak Jan Shaheed, Nishan-e-Haider, was observed here on Thursday with vows of sparing no efforts for defending the frontiers of the country. Rallies, ceremonies and references were held in district Ghizer, the native town of the national hero, and other cities of Gilgit-Baltistan where attendants paid rich tributes to the services of Havaldar Lalak Jan who bravely faced the enemies attack and defended the national borders against Indian assault.

It is worth mentioning that Havaldar Lalak Jan was awarded Nishan-e-Haider for his dauntless courage and devotion during war against the enemies of the country. Lalak Jan was born in Yasin, district Ghizer of the Northern Areas of Pakistan (now called Gilgit-Baltistan).—INP

Gilgit-Baltistan:GB Government declares war against drugs

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The government of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is getting serious about curbing the sale and use of illegal drugs in the region.

It is forming a Narcotics Control Committees (NCC) and Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) stations in various parts of G-B to curb the growing use of narcotics, a government official said on Wednesday.

“The plan has been discussed and approved in a high-level meeting chaired by G-B Home Secretary,” said an official, asking not to be named.

He said the committee members will comprise prominent scholars, government officials and other stakeholders willing to support the government in its fight against narcotics, a “menace that is constantly rising in the society”.

ANF stations would be setup in Ghizer Valley and Skardu, where officials will keep a check the increasing spread of drugs, especially among youngsters, he explained.

He added that even though no official statistics are available to suggest the use of drugs in G-B, the number is believed to be in thousands.

“This is a serious issue which needs to be dealt with,” he said, adding that the plan could only become successful with the support of people.

“Rehabilitation centres will also be set up at hospitals where addicts will be given treatment,” he said.

He added the idea of training teachers against drug use is also under consideration to increase awareness about the consequences of use of narcotics among students.

Courtesy:The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan:Cooperation and Joint venture offered to the Government to Promote Tourism

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Islamabad—The Private Tour Operators Association of Pakistan have offered cooperation and joint ventures to the government line agencies to promote tourism.

The association has gievn the offer at a time when the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation and its counterparts at the provinces could not reportedly perform well owing to financial constraints.

“Promotion of tourism alone is a herculean task given the damage it has suffered over the last couple of years,” Najib Ahmad Khan, who is Vice President of the Association, told.

The Vice President, who also runs Islamabad-based travel agency, Himalayan Holidays, said concerted efforts were needed to rescue the sinking tourism industry.

Citing attractive packages he undertook at the Himalayan Holidays including Snow Leopard Safari, White Water Rafting, and Chulistain Desert Safari, he said the PTDC should formulate programmes to cater to needs of tourists in all four seasons, not just in summer.

Pakistan possesses tremendous potential in its tourism sector. It has the conglomeration of world three mightiest mountain ranges (Korakuram, Hindukush, Himalayas).

Out of 14 mountain peaks above the altitude of 8,000 metres, five are located in Pakistan. Green valleys, glistening lakes, jagged mountains, vast deserts, ancient archaeological heritage and much more win Pakistan a unique place in the world.

Najib Khan said the tourism industry could earn huge revenue for the national exchequer, if it was put on right direction.

He said attention should be diverted to Gilgit Baltistan, Swat, Naran-Kaghan and Galliyat where tourists were coming in great numbers.

Gilgit-Baltistan:A Study of Formal and Informal Legal Systems Prevalent in Pakistan

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KARACHI: Special courts, tribunals and quasi-judicial forums must be abolished as these are against the constitution and tend to cause more harm than provide speedy and efficient justice, said a study on judicial systems launched on Wednesday.

Part of the set of recommendations in ‘A Study of Formal and Informal Legal Systems Prevalent in Pakistan’ conducted by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), the report was presented by NCSW chairperson Anis Haroon at a programme.

She was accompanied by retired Justice Majida Rizvi, who was the lead consultant for the report — a comprehensive account of the justice systems in Pakistan including the much-maligned parallel legal system. Also present on the occasion were Justice Kailash Nath Kohli, Sadia Mumtaz and Nasreen Azhar.

Regarding the quasi-judicial forums, the study observed that the cases should only be entrusted to the regular courts with full-time judges at the district level at the first stage. “The parallel legal forums lead to prolonged litigation as sooner or later the disputes are taken up at the judicial forums. This leads to prolonged litigation and puts the litigants in a more adverse situation.”

In 2010, the nationwide study was commissioned by the NCSW to examine these systems keeping in mind the gender issues. It was aimed at finding out whether the systems were cohesive and efficient when it came to providing justice.

The study covered the federally administered tribal areas (Fata) and Gilgit-Baltistan along with the provinces.

It focused on the formal legal system, the parallel legal system and the parallel informal and illegal system and took into account the threats that the extra-judicial systems pose to the formal justice system.

“The parallel legal system affects women the most. In a marginalised society where there is no regard for laws, this system creates chaos. What is worse is that often the reports of abuses and crimes against women are not taken up by the media,” said Ms Haroon.

Elaborating on the study and its aims, she said that it’s about time that the country did away with the parallel justice system.

“Jirga and Panchayat always end up giving a biased judgment and usually it’s the victim that receives a harrowing penalty. We need to take into account the fact that justice is the right of each and every citizen of the country and it’s only a fair legal system that can do justice.”

Citing the Haripur case where a woman was paraded naked on the orders of a jirga and another one where a woman was stoned to death in Barikot, she questioned the rationale behind this form of `justice`.

“While these are just some of the cases that come to the fore and where the police justly did its duty, there are many, many more cases that go unreported. This is particularly the case in Fata where the strong Taliban influence often leads to the swift elimination of women without a second thought,” she said.

While the incidents did get reported in Sindh and Punjab, violence against women had continued to escalate there too over the years, she added.

Speaking about Balochistan and the situation of human rights and women’s rights, Justice Kohli said the justice system needed to be reconsidered. “In 1993, the Jirga system was abolished in Balochistan but unfortunately it continues to date due to the Sardari system. Anyone going against tribal customs is considered to have committed a sin.”

He said there was a need to change the mindset but there was an even stronger need to implement laws fairly because only then would a precedent be set.

In its recommendations, the commission further stated that the number of judges should be increased in courts for speedy and better dispensation of justice and called for women judges to be a part of the decision-making process.

On the importance of providing justice to women and redress of the violation of women’s rights, the study called upon the government to take appropriate measures for better management. “Extend laws, especially the family laws and other pro-women legislation to Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata and any other territories in Pakistan not under the cover of the constitution and the law of the land,” the study recommended, laying emphasis on effective implementation of laws.

Courtesy: Dawn

Gilgit Baltistan:A Student from Danyore Gilgit brings Laurels for the Country

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Saeeda Mir has won first prize in the International Book-writing Competition organised by the US. She has received a six-year educational scholarship from the Hawaii Institute, USA.

Around 1,900 students from all over the world participated in the competition in which Saeeda Mir, daughter of Mirbaz Khan, won the first prize. She belongs to Danyore Sultanabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and is a student of Bachelor of Arts (BA) at the Federal Government Margalla College for Women, Islamabad.

She has also participated in different competitions, including 2nd International Essay-writing Competition, and won Rs30,000 cash prize and a certificate. She also participated in the International Letter-writing Competition 2010.

After winning the scholarship, Saeeda Mir got a chance to study law at the People’s College for Law, Los Angeles.

Talking to ‘The News,’ Saeeda Mir said: “It was a great honour for me to not only representing Pakistan but also winning laurels for the country.”

According to her, she has already received more than 25 certificates from different academic institutions and organisations in the United Kingdom and United States of America, but not a single ‘appreciation letter’ from the Government of Pakistan, which really disheartens her.

She urged young people to come forward and participate in such competitions to promote the soft image of Pakistan abroad.

Saeeda Mir said: “I don’t need any reward from the government, but it should at least give me an ‘appreciation letter’ to encourage me.”

She said that she wanted to become a judge that’s why she has decided to study law. “After getting a degree, I will come back to Pakistan to serve the country. I think a competent and independent judiciary can make Pakistan more strong,” she concluded.

Courtesy. The News