He added that the performance of this assembly is far better than the one which served under the General (retd) Pervez Musharraf government. “We have made marvellous legislative progress in a very brief period,” he said.
Ahmed criticised previous G-B governments, saying that lawmakers spent money on irrational projects, resulting in the loss of resources and time. “When we came to power in 2009, we had several incomplete projects on which we had to spend large sums of money,” he said, adding that the Attabad disaster, followed by the floods in 2010, wrecked havoc on the region’s economy.
About G-B’s constitutional status, Ahmed said that it is not a constitutional province but an administrative setup, carved out under the Empowerment and Self Rule Order 2009, to honour the demands of local people for self-rule. “If you ask me, I will say that G-B is geographically more important for Pakistan than Azad Jammu and Kashmir because of its location,” he said, adding that the establishment of the G-B Council was meant to keep the region connected with the Kashmir issue.
Ahmed also said that the region will have to pay taxes if it wants to be self-sustaining. He said that while taxes will not be levied on poor people, the corporate sector and those earning more than Rs 50,000 per month will be liable to pay. However he clarified that the matter has been deferred until G-B’s constitutional status is resolved, adding that the maintenance of law and order is the government’s top priority.