Gilgit-Baltistan:GB may move SC on Boundary Issue- Opposition Leader

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Gilgit (ET): Amid escalating tensions between the two neighbouring regions, the opposition leader in the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Legislative Assembly Janbaz Khan has downplayed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) decision to take the boundary issue to the Supreme Court, asserting that K-P has full rights to move the apex court with documented proof to establish its claim on the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. “It’s not a big issue if the boundary dispute is taken to the apex court. We can also go to the Supreme Court to establish our claim on the dam,” Janbaz Khan told The Express Tribune on Monday.

His remarks came after the K-P government earlier this week decided to take the Diamer-Bhasha Dam boundary issue to the Supreme Court after G-B’s Legislative Assembly last month passed a unanimous resolution against K-P’s claim over part of the dam which can displace approximately 22,000 people in 30 villages of the Diamer valley.

Khan, a senior leader of PML-N from the Diamer valley, said that the issue wasn’t confined to his district alone; rather it was an issue affecting the whole province. He said that leaders of G-B would hold a meeting on December 19 with the chief minister to decide the line of action on the issue.

“We need not worry since we have documented proof in support of our claim,” he said, adding that K-P was trying to take undue advantage of its influence over decision makers in the federal government.

G-B cites an agreement signed in 1947 between the representatives of the Kohistan district of K-P and the Diamer district, which declares the disputed land part of Diamer. The K-P government, on the other hand, draws support from the 1955 Boundary Commission’s report that suggests that eight kilometres of land near the dam is part of K-P.

In other words, if K-Ps claim is accepted, it will have rights to 50 per cent of the royalty of the dam being built on River Indus, about  300 km upstream of Tarbela Dam and about 40 km downstream of Chilas Town, the headquarters of Diamer.

“If the K-P claim over part of the land is authentic, why don’t they support our stance for the formation of a boundary commission,” said Khan.

Earlier G-B’s Legislative Assembly passed a unanimous resolution rejecting K-P’s claim. Last year, the G-B Supreme Appellate Court also gave its judgment declaring 75 per cent royalty of the dam for G-B. The court also ruled that the remaining 25 percent royalty should be settled through a boundary commission.

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 complete in eight years and will cost over $12 billion

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