Month: October 2012

Gilgit-Baltistan:Appointments in GB courts urged through Judicial Commission of Pakistan

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Karachi (by Taqdir Ali Khan): AFTER the reform package to Gilgit Baltistan was introduced, two posts of judges in the district’s chief court were created. However, both the posts in the upper judiciary, i.e. the Supreme Appellate Court, have been lying vacant for a long time.

Now the vacancies are allegedly being clinched by people who have vested interest and are trying to bring their near and dear ones to fill them.

Thus, merit is being dismissed in the appointment of judges. Besides, the authorities concerned are demanding millions of rupees as bribe for these posts. This is a crime.

A judicial commission exists in our country for the appointment of judges of the apex court. Unfortunately, the commission is not playing any role in the appointment of judges. Judges in the supreme judiciary of Gilgit Baltistan should go through the judicial commission.

It is interesting to note that Law Minister Wazir Shakeel has offered himself for one of the posts and it seems obvious that he would be inducted by the government.

If the minister himself becomes a candidate for the position of judge in the apex court, what trust would there remain for the l public?

There is a strong objection to the candidature of the law minister.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan is requested through the media to take suo motu action and ensure that the appointments in the apex court of Gilgit Baltistan are made on merit.

Unless these appointments are made through the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, back-door appointments would continue to take place.

There are many candidates for these positions who hold a master’s degree in law and have several decades of standing at the Bar in comparison to the law minister of Gilgit Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Govt. Allocated Rs. 13.8 Billion for DBD

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LAHORE (Nation): The 4,500MW-Diamer Bhasha Dam Project is being implemented on priority, as the Federal Government has allocated about Rs 13.78 billion for the project during the fiscal year 2012-13.

Wapda Chairman Raghib Shah expressed these views while talking to Gilgit Baltistan Works Minister Bashir Ahmed, Health Minister Haji Gulber Khan and Taxation & Minerals Minister Muhammad Naseer Khan, who called on him.

The Chairman said that as many as 14 local contracts had already been awarded and construction work on Wapda offices, colonies, contractors’ camp, road infrastructure etc. in the project area was in full swing. He further said that the process to acquire land for the project both in Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had also been started while a sum of Rs 6.85 billion had been paid to the respective governments till June 2012 for the purpose.

The Chairman said that the multi-purpose Diamer Bhasha Dam Project would usher in an era of prosperity and development in the country, particularly in Gilgit Baltistan. He said that a lucrative compensation package for affectees of the project had been devised in accordance with international standards. 

The Gilgit Baltistan ministers assured Wapda Chairman of their full support in implementation of the project. Discussing the matters relating to the project, they also apprised him of the demands of the locals. The Chairman said that Wapda would look into the matter sympathetically within the rules.Diamer Bhasha Dam Project is located in Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. On completion, the project will store 8.1 million acre feet of water in addition to generating about 20 billion units of hydel electricity every years.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Government decides to impose tax in GB?

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Gilgit (D.Times): The government of Gilgit Baltistan has decided to impose income tax in the region despite the popular urge of ‘No rights, no tax’ assertion that, time and again, echoed in the mountains of GB.

That voice now seems to be overlooked and lost, as the tax collection will start soon. The administration now has unveiled the slab rates for taxation purposes.  

All the residents of GB will have to pay taxes, including government servants, whose annual income exceeds Rs. 400,000. Annual disposable income that is more than 400,000 but less than Rs.750, 000 will be taxed by 10 percent.

For those whose income exceed Rs.750000 but does not exceed Rs.1500000, will be taxed by 15 percent.

Twenty percent tax will be collected from a resident whose income exceed Rs.1500000 but is less than Rs.2500000.The rate of tax will be 25% for the people who annually earn above Rs.2500000.

Eighty thousand people will be brought in the tax net and GB government will get approximately Rs. 4 billion as tax revenue.

The tax amount will be deposited in the GB council’s account. It is said to be spent through GB government for the development of the region.

There was no immediate reaction shown, however, people believe that without constitutional rights and legitimate government mechanism, the tax imposition is yet another tactic to rip off masses. There was no plan, whatsoever, announced for tax credit or tax benefits that the tax-paying masses might entertain.

Gilgit-Baltistan:GB promised to have three International Airports

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ISLAMABAD (ET): President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to carry out a study on constructing two new all-weather international airports in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

“The president has directed CAA to carry out a study for the construction of the Chilas International Airport,” confirmed CAA spokesperson Pervez George on Thursday. He added that studies for constructing another international airport in Mirpur in AJK are also being conducted.

According to CAA officials, the authority has already started paperwork for constructing a new international airport in Chilas in order to facilitate G-B residents and attract tourists to the region. Though Chilas already has a small airport, no passenger airline operates from there currently.

CAA Director General (DG) Capt (retd) Nadeem Khan Yousafzai has also visited Mirpur and met with local administration officials for constructing another international airport there. The AJK government has promised complete assistance for the task.

Officials said physical work on the two proposed airports will start by the end of 2014. After their construction, there will be over 141 airfields, both civil and military, in Pakistan. CAA oversees all civil airports in the country, apart from Sialkot International Airport which is owned and operated by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Just to recall that ex-premier Yousuf Raza Gilani made similar announcements four years back to upgrade Gilgit and Skardu airports.

Gilgit-Baltistan:USAID organized program on Modern Techniques for Farm Business and Irrigation System

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Islamabad (P.obs): Sixty four specialists of the Ministries of Agriculture from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sindh, and Balochistan received ten-day training on modern techniques for farm business and irrigation systems sponsored by the United States Government. The training course was organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help improve on-farm productivity and profitability, product quality, and water management.

“Pakistan holds lucrative farming opportunities if modern techniques are applied properly and efficiently. The U.S. Government is committed to helping Pakistan modernize its agriculture sector thus providing a boost to the country’s economy,” said USAID Country Director Jonathan Conly at the completion of the training course for AJK and Gilgit Baltistan specialists on September 26 in Islamabad.

Training participants will use this new information to counsel farmers in their respective regions how to improve farm business, set up agriculture cooperation stores, improve storage and on-farm processing, and develop market linkages.

“Farming in the mountain areas has always been a challenge for agri. extension workers and researchers. I am glad that USAID has provided me skills to raise awareness regarding agri-business among AJK farmers and especially the female farmers who have a lead role in farm activities,” said Amina Rafi, one of the participants.

Pakistan’s agricultural sector is a major employer of the country’s labor force. However, the sector lacks modern technologies and knowledge to make its products competitive.

Gilgit-Baltistan:PM Meets ADB Team for DBD Project Financing

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ISLAMABAD (Dawn): Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday said that the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project was of great importance and there was a national consensus on it.

The prime minister expressed these views in a meeting with a six-member delegation comprising Board of Directors of Asian Development Bank (ADB) led by Maurin Sitours at the Prime Minister House here.

The prime minister said that the ADB had been a very reliable partner of Pakistan, which had extended technical and financial assistance to it in many development projects.

He said that Pakistan greatly valued the co-operation extended by the ADB.

“It is my earnest desire that we should concentrate on a few strategic projects so that they can be completed in time and yield results,” said the Prime Minister.

The leader of the ADB delegation informed the prime minister that his delegation had useful discussions with Pakistan’s financial team.

Maurin Sitours also informed the Prime Minister that he would convey to the ADB President Pakistan’s interest in the Diamer-Basha Dam.

The prime minister said that the Diamer-Basha Dam would not only provide additional water storage capacity but also produce cheap electricity.

The prime minister said that the BISP was government’s flagship programme, which was aimed at targeting the poorest of the poor. The BISP, he said, had recently launched new projects and was a major tool of government to address poverty.

Minister of Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister/Chairperson BISP Madame Farzana Raja and senior officials were also present during the meeting.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Government Decides to Form Ulema Council of GB

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GILGIT (ET): In wake of the ‘promising role’ of the recently-established Masjid Board to ensure sectarian harmony in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), the G-B government has now decided to set up an 11-member Ulema Council to reinforce the peace efforts.

“It has been agreed in principal that the Ulema Council will be set up to support the Masjid Board,” an official of the G-B government told The Express Tribune on Saturday. The official, who requested not to be named, said a parliamentary peace committee, which set up the Masjid Board, has submitted its recommendations in this regard to the G-B chief minister.

The Masjid Board, which is represented by 20 members (10 each from Shia and Sunni sects), is responsible for implementing a “code of conduct” prepared by the parliamentary peace committee, binding prayer leaders from maligning each other’s beliefs or using harsh language against the revered personalities of other sects.

Talking about the composition of the Ulema Council, the G-B government official said that “as per agreement”, four members each will be chosen from the Sunni and Shia sects, two from the Noor Bukhshi sect and one from the Ismaili sect. The official said that the status of the council members will be at par with that of a provincial secretary, however, their services will not be permanent and the period of their service will be decided by the cabinet in due course.

Adviser to Prime Minister for Gilgit-Baltistan, Attaullah Shahab said the size of the Ulema Council was expanded in view of “the good work done by the Masjid Board”. Shahab said that according to the earlier plan, two members each from Sunni and Shia sect were to be selected for the council, but now their strength has been doubled.

The PM’s adviser added that keeping in view of the positive role of the Noor Bakhshi and Ismaili communities in the society, it was decided that they too will be given representation in the council.

Shahab lauded the role of the Masjid Board in ensuring sectarian harmony by bringing top clerics of the Sunni and Shia sects to the negotiating table.

Gilgit-Baltistan:People of GB and Upcoming National Elections in Pakistan

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Karachi (By Muhammad Ali):PAKISTAN is moving towards the next elections and the people of the four provinces will choose their representatives in the provincial and national assemblies for the next five years.

However, the people of Gilgit Baltistan will be just spectators rather than active participants of the elections due to the constitutional and administrative status of the area.

Historically, Gilgit Baltistan was liberated from the Dogras by the people of the area who voluntarily affiliated to Pakistan. However, connecting it with the Kashmir dispute, the habitants of the area have been waiting for their constitutional fate for the last six decades.

During this long period the people were governed through tailor – made ordinances without complete constitutional status.

It is pertinent to note that the people of Indian – controlled Kashmir have been participating in their national elections and the people of Azad Kashmir have also been enjoying a better political setup.

Nonetheless, the people of Gilgit Baltistan have been sacrificing for a long time and still waiting for their constitutional rights.

The ambiguous constitutional status has affected the areas in many ways. First, due to the lack of healthy political activities sectarian conflict has been badly affecting the area.

Second, because of the absence of representation in the National Assembly and the Senate, the area did not get due attention in terms of economic and social development.

Third, the sense of constitutional and political deprivation has been a matter of distress for the people.

Today, the people of the area, particularly the educated youths, raise critical questions about their identity and political destiny.
Apprehending the feelings of the people, the legislative assembly of Gilgit Baltistan has passed a resolution, demanding a constitutional province.

To reduce the sense of deprivation of the people, it is time the area was provided full provincial status before the upcoming elections. It will allow the people of the area to take part in the coming elections along with other Pakistanis to elect their representatives to the National Assembly and the Senate.

The people of Gilgit Baltistan have sacrificed for a long time while waiting for its constitutional status. Further delays in giving the area its conditional and political right may have multiple implications.

Therefore, the time has come to reflect seriously and take concrete and immediate actions to resolve the prolonged constitutional issue of Gilgit Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Athletic Federation of Pakistan granted affiliation to GB

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ISLAMABAD (APP): The Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) has granted affiliation to Azad Jammu and Kashmir , Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA.

The affiliations were granted at an AFP meeting held under its resident Major Gen (r) Mohammad Akram Sahi,” said a spokesman for the AFP here on Thursday. He said the affiliation case of Veteran Athletes and Pakistan Education Boards would be considered through affiliation and monitoring committee to be constituted by the AFP. The meeting also approved the calendar of events for next year and appointed Zafar Ahmed as the director of ‘Kid’s Athletics Programme’ that will be run in collaboration with the IAAF