Month: October 2012
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.
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.
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
GILGIT (ET): Amid cautions of possible terrorist attacks on passenger buses travelling between Gilgit and Rawalpindi, the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Police on Thursday released 12 people, including four clerics, who had been detained three months back on charges of inciting violence.
G-B Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police Ali Sher said the men were among the 20 people arrested under Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) after over 20 people were killed in G-B in target killings. He said the men were detained for three months and were released after they provided written assurances that they will remain peaceful in the future and not incite people towards violence.
The men include Anjuman-e-Imamia President Faqir Shah, Ahle-Sunnat Waljamat General Secretary Himayatullah, Sheikh Iqbal and Mussa Karimi, who is the prayer leader of a mosque in Aliabad, Hunza.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior has yet again cautioned the G-B government of possible terrorist attacks on passenger buses on Karakoram Highway between Gilgit and Rawalpindi.
In a letter sent to the G-B government, the ministry stated that passenger buses headed towards Astore or Skardu may come under terrorist attacks between Dassu area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Chilas town of G-B’s Diamer district.
The ministry cautioned that the attack might be similar to the ones that occurred in Babusar and Kohistan, in which passengers, mostly Shias, were hauled off of buses and shot dead.
The ministry requested the G-B government to remain vigilant in the coming days as residents of G-B working elsewhere in the country will be travelling to their hometowns to celebrate Eid.
DIG Sher said the police have set up an elaborate plan to ensure security in G-B during Eid days.
ISLAMABAD (ET): With serious differences among the party leadership, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has decided to postpone intra-party elections for its Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) chapters till next year.
PTI leaders dealing with intra-party elections told The Express Tribune on Friday that the party will not be able to hold elections for its office-bearers in G-B and AJK till next year since the party’s constitution is under scrutiny as there are differences among leaders over the election mechanism.
“We have decided to postpone intra-party elections in G-B and AJK for two main reasons. Firstly, because of differences among leaders over the exact framework in formulating a party hierarchy and, secondly, due to the ongoing study of PTI’s constitution by legal attorneys,” a senior official of the party informed this correspondent.
The decision came after PTI’s announcement that it will hold intra-party elections on November 2 in Islamabad.
Sources told The Express Tribune that various leaders including, Jamal Khan Leghari, Mian Azhar and Mian Mehmood Rashid, Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali and Sikandar Bosan have conveyed their concerns to Imran Khan.
A leader highlighted the fact that the aforementioned members have not yet been given any party office and confirmed that there are differences over “the exact framework to be followed in formulating a party hierarchy.”
A PTI leader feared that the party might not be able to meet the deadline to conduct its intra-party elections due to incomplete voter lists. “It will take 12 to 14 weeks to complete the voters’ registration process,” he said, adding that there is still a need to establish offices and interim bodies in AJK and G-B for party elections.
However, Ahmed Jawad, head of Central Media Cell Islamabad says, “PTI will successfully conclude its intra-party elections by the end of this year.”
ISLAMABAD (DT): Students treated audience with cultural and traditional hilarity in the auditorium of National University of Modern Languages (NUML) on Thursday. Male, wearing white neat clothes with traditional hand made white stuffed traditional caps adorned with colourful plumes and female, wearing scarlet red and pink dresses with traditional colourful embroidered caps, students rendered some very soulful cultural and traditional performances to celebrate Gilgit-Baltistan Cultural Day in the University.
Gilgit-Baltistan cultural day was arranged by students (hailing from Gilgit-Baltistan), of different departments of the University. The rhythm and current of the music that was created by playing tradition instruments like Dadang, Damal, Surnai, and Gabri was delight of the day for the audience.
Moreover, calculated movements and swirling bodies of the performers in traditional dances of Gilgit, Nagar and Chalas were presented by the students that refreshed the memories of spectacular picturesque landscape, carved wooden houses, sensational sports, natural waterfalls, and snow-covered mountain ranges of Gilgit-Baltistan. The students paid tribute to the country by singing national songs, sang their traditional songs of the area and presented the humourous poetry that convulsed the audience with laughter.
Giglit-Balti Finance Minister Muhammad Ali Akhtar was the chief guest in the cultural day while Rector Maj Gen (R) Masood Hasan, Director General (DG) Brig Azam Jamal, Director Student Affairs Muhammad Taj, other officials of the university, a great number of faculty members and students also attended the event. Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Ali Akhtar said, “It is indeed very pleasant to see that University provides platform and opportunity to their students to exhibit their diverse culture and traditions and such activities not only promote cultural harmony but also provide a chance to other students to learn about different beautiful parts of their homeland.”
Rector Maj Gen (R) Masood Hasan speaking at the occasion thanked the provincial Financial Minister for visiting to the University to appreciate the efforts of the students and said that “it is University’s priority to provide its students with a conducive environment where they can pursue their curricular and co-curricular activities with equal ease”.
GILGIT (ET): Lawyers have expressed concern over the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government’s delay in appointment of judges in the Supreme Appellate Court. They said the apex court has been left dysfunctional for the past four months due to the shortage of judges.
After the contracts of Justice Syed Jafer Shah and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob expired in May this year, the Supreme Appellate Court was left with only one judge to hear cases. Ibrahim Shahid, a local lawyer, pointed out that under Article 60(14) of the G-B Governance Order 2009, an appeal to the Supreme Appellate Court must be heard by a bench consisting of not less than two judges. With only one judge, the court is unable to take up appeals and it is the people who are suffering as a result, he added.
Another lawyer, Musrat Jamal, was more critical of the opposition parties than the government itself over the delay in appointment of judges at the Supreme Appellate Court. “It is the opposition’s role to voice concerns over the government’s laxness. They have failed to fulfil their responsibilities as people’s representatives,” he added.
Janbaz Khan, the opposition leader in the G-B assembly said, “I can’t make any comments on the judiciary and the judges’ issue. All I can say is it is the responsibility of the government and not the opposition to appoint judges.”
The government, however, is hopeful that the vacant posts will be filled soon. “We have sent yet another summary to the federal government, requesting them to either extend the contract of justices Shah and Yaqoob or elevate judges from the lower courts,” G-B Law Minister Wazir Shakeel told ET. He said he is hopeful that the issue will be resolved in a few weeks.