Gilgit-Baltistan:Natural resources of GB and Economic Policy

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GILGIT: Participants of a seminar urged the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government to formulate an economic policy that aims to harness the region’s natural resources.

This was said at a seminar on industrial development and poverty alleviation which was organised by Step, a non-government organisation (NGO), here on Sunday.

The region is full of natural resources like water, minerals, tourism, forests and wildlife but these are not being exploited in the absence of  a friendly economic policy, the participants added.

Amina Ansari, a lawmaker in the G-B Legislative Assembly, criticized Chief Minister Mehdi Shah for violating the G-B assembly resolution banning exploitation of the region’s natural resources. “The G-B assembly had recommended ban on the issuance of [such] licenses but the chief minister violated it by issuing permits to a foreigner,” she said. The prominent Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) leader added that it was the government’s responsibility to respect the ruling of the G-B assembly.

She said that the public should be informed before taking any decision relating to the region’s resources. Failure to do so, she warned, might result in mass resistance against the government.

A social activist, Israrud Din, said that G-B had plenty of resources which if properly used could change the fate of the locals. “If a garment factory is setup in the region, we can save nearly Rs800 million per year by manufacturing school uniforms in Gilgit,” he said.

Dr Salma Durrani, an educationist in Karakoram International University, said that the youth must concentrate on private production instead of relying entirely on the government. She suggested that mineral water of the region can be exported to other countries if the business is properly taken up.

Advocate Kifayat Malik said that the policies need to be implemented regarding preservation of forests and other natural resources, adding that the imposition of taxes will help the government in carrying out projects suiting the public’s interest.

Earlier, Step’s Chief Officer Mujahid Shah stated they had been working to increase the standard of living of marginalised communities.

The workshop was also addressed by Sabir Hussain, chief technical advisor of the NGO who said they would submit the recommendations to the government for better policy formulation. (ET)

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