Month: November 2011
GILGIT (ET): The Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly has adopted a unanimous resolution condemning Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s [K-P] claim over part of the land near the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, vowing to resist the ‘forceful occupation’.
“This forum condemns the K-P Provincial Assembly Resolution 622 which has called eight kilometres of land on the right side of the dam disputed,” said Bashir Ahmed, a lawmaker from Diamer, who tabled the resolution in the assembly chaired by Speaker Wazir Baig on Saturday.
Ahmed said that the demand being made by K-P over G-B’s land is baseless since the decision of a jirga during 1947 had declared it a part of G-B.
“We will defend our land against any forceful occupation”, he asserted.
Ahmed, the regional minister for works, said K-P’s resolution had soured ties between the two areas but added that “they didn’t want strained relations with the neighbours”. In a bid to give a ‘befitting reply’ to K-P’s resolution, the G-B assembly speaker constituted a committee including Janbaz Khan, Rehmat Khaliq and Gulbar Khan – all the sitting lawmakers from Diamer Valley – with instructions to thoroughly scrutinise K-P’s claim.
The committee, consequently, traced documents signed between the representatives of Kohistan and Diamer during 1947, which had declared the disputed land, a part of Diamer, G-B where the dam is being built on River Indus.
The dam is situated about 300 km upstream of Tarbela Dam and about 40 kilometres downstream of Chilas Town the headquarters of Diamer district of G-B.
“So the area is not at all disputed because it is essentially a part of G-B,” Ahmed said on the floor of the house.
With a storage capacity of about 8 million acre feet and projected electricity generation of 4,500 MWs, the Diamer-Bhasha Dam will top both Tarbela and Mangla dams, whose storage capacities have fallen drastically due to silting over the years. According to experts, the dam is expected to be completed in eight years and will cost over $12 billion.
Ahmed, the ex-opposition leader in the G-B assembly, underscored the need for implementing the G-B Supreme Appellate Court decision that declared 75 per cent royalty rights of the dam to G-B.
The court also ruled that the remaining 25 per cent of royalty should be settled through a boundary commission. “The federal commission should set up a boundary commission immediately,” he said, adding that since G-B did not have representation in Parliament, K-P was successfully manoeuvring things in its favour.
Janbaz Khan, the opposition leader in the G-B Assembly, dubbed K-P Assembly’s resolution a conspiracy against the dam and said the people of Gilgit could wage a fight for their land.
After listening to the legislators’ arguments, the speaker of the assembly approved the unanimous resolution.
KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has converted its entire branch network on-line in Gilgit & Baltistan.
A spokesman of the Bank said on Friday in a statement that NBP’s strategy to convert majority of its branches on-line by the end of this year for which work is going on at fast pace.
“NBP is present in far off and remotest areas of Pakistan,” the statement added.
The Bank has recently initiated a number of IT projects to make the bank one of the most technologically advanced financial institutions in the country.
It said that currently the Bank is in the implementation phase of Core Banking System which is one of the largest IT projects in Pakistan and covers all the banking functions.
“Qamar Hussain, President NBP, appreciated the efforts of Information Technology team and expressed the hope that very soon more branches will come online all over the country,” it added.
Islamabad (News): Within six months of its inauguration by the prime minister, Islamabad’s first government-run medical educational institution is set to open its doors to a batch of 50 students.
Affiliated with the country’s premier Quaid-i-Azam University and having the city’s premier Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences as attached teaching hospital, Federal Medical and Dental College will invite applications for MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) admissions next week, a relevant official told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.
The official, who wished not to be named, said applicants would sit a written test to be conducted by the public sector National Testing Service whose tests and assessment are a precondition for admission and recruitment to the country’s many prime public and private sector educational institutions.
The results will be announced within 72 hours of the test, while the classes will begin in January, he said.
Originally, it was planned that PIMS would house the college until its premises in the National Institute of Health, Chak Shahzad got ready. However, the plan was later dropped after the hospital administration expressed inability to provide rooms for students to have lectures in.
Now, according to the official, the college is located on the NIH premises from where students will be taken to PIMS by buses for training.
The college will prioritise taking in Islamabad’s students but a few seats have also been reserved for candidates from all provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, he said, adding that professors, associate professors, assistant professors and demonstrators with experience in anatomy, physiology, psychology, biochemistry, internal medicine, pharmacology, and other disciplines will be appointed to it.
In April this year, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, the regulator of medical and dental educational institutions in the country, recognised the college and gave the mandatory green light to admissions of 50 MBBS students for this year. The number of seats, including those of BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), will later be enhanced to 200 a year.
When contacted, PIMS Executive Director Professor Dr Mehmood Jamal confirmed the imminent opening of the Federal Medical and Dental College admissions and said the college would improve the quality of medical and dental education and training in the country.
“This first public sector medical and dental college of Islamabad will offer education and training of international standards to its students. It will have a wide range of disciplines with a great emphasis on great practical exposure of the students,” he said.
Professor Dr Mehmood said all necessary arrangements had been made for the start of classes that was slated for early next year.
“Students should play their role in reviving the traditional peace, harmony and hospitality of G-B, which are now fast diminishing,” Shah said.
He was speaking at the 5th and 6th joint convocation ceremony of the Karakoram International University (KIU), where 850 students were awarded degrees.
The ceremony was attended by a large number of parents, faculty members, government officials, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Legislative Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig and G-B force commander. The governor also announced an amount of Rs500,000 for the university, which had been requested by KIU Vice-Chancellor Najma Najam.
Earlier, the vice-chancellor briefed the audience on the university’s achievements and said that the number of PhDs in the university has reached 33 from eight in just two and a half years.
In addition to that, KIU has signed a number of agreements with foreign universities to promote quality education, she added.
She explained that the convocation had been delayed due to the Attabad tragedy, followed by the floods last year.
She also said that the university has introduced several new courses while admissions into engineering programs would start in a year. In addition to that, the university will also start fine arts and law programs next year, she added.
Gilgit (A.Today): Offices of three banned Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) based religious outfits have been sealed, Chief Minister Mehdi Shah said on Thursday.
Earlier in October, the Interior Ministry had placed a ban on at least three G-B based religious outfits including the Sabeel Organisation, Tanzeem Nau Jawanaan-e-Ahle-Sunnat and Shia Talba Action Committee (STAC) for their alleged involvement in sectarian violence across the province.
Talking to reporters at his residence late on Thursday, the Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister said that the step was taken to ensure peace in the region that has witnessed growing violence on sectarian grounds in the recent past, leaving several dead.
“Gilgit has been divided into four zones with each zone placed under a superintendent of police,” he revealed and added that the troublemakers would be dealt with an “iron hand”.
SKARDU (ET): Ten houses were burnt in a fire in Hilalabad village of Kharmang area in District Skardu on Thursday.
According to initial reports, the cause of the fire might have been the firewood that locals store to keep themselves warm during the harsh winters. However, an official confirmation is yet to be received from the area.
Since early November, temperature in Skardu had fallen as low as four degrees below freezing point after a spell of heavy rain and snowfall in Gilgit-Baltistan(G-B). This meant that the villagers had no access to water when the fire erupted, being forced to quell it with the very limited options available to them.
Lack of proper roads also made it difficult for rescue teams to reach the village and control the damage.
No casualties were reported in the incident but villagers feared the loss of more material goods as the fire continues to spread till the filing of this report.
Earlier in Rawalpindi, a fire broke out in the Imperial Market of the Raja Bazaar destroying electronic goods worth millions of rupees.
The third day of the GBLA session chaired by Speaker Wazir Baig was dominated by the deteriorating law and order situation in Gilgit city.
“I warn you of the impending danger,” said Abdul Hameed of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who hails from the Astore valley. “Unabated violence in Gilgit city can afflict the entire region.”
Earlier on Tuesday, armed men opened fire on two young men in the Khomar area of Gilgit city, killing one and injuring the other. The toll in sectarian-motivated killings has climbed to five, besides eight injuries, in the past one month.
The speaker concurred with the lawmakers and observed that law and order situation in the regional capital was worsening. “The G-B people are looking at you,” he said, addressing G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Shah.
CM says his hands were tied
The chief minister, in a startling ‘revelation’ to assembly members, said he’d been ‘forbidden’ to take action against corrupt officials in the past by sitting assembly members, on political and sectarian grounds. “But from now on, I will name anyone who tries to stop me from taking action against corrupt officials,” Shah told the lawmakers.
His remarks followed opposition leader Janbaz Khan’s presentation of the recommendations of the standing committee on public works departments. A system of rewards and punishment must be introduced in the department, Khan suggested.
Shah announced launching of an inquiry against corrupt officials, but added that inquiries had been conducted in the past but action was delayed due to political and sectarian considerations raised by lawmakers.