Month: February 2013

Gilgit-Baltistan: GB Integral Part of Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD (The News): Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is an integral part of Pakistan and its native population is totally loyal and patriotic to the country, authoritative sources in the federal capital have stated while reacting to a propaganda campaign launched to prove otherwise.

The propaganda launched in foreign countries not only distorts the historical truth about the GB and Pakistan but also instigates separatist notions for the target audience.

The elements sponsoring the campaign, while advocating resumption of traffic and trade across LoC (from GB to Ladakh), oppose building of dams, expressways, railways and gas pipelines by government of Pakistan, propagating that it will damage the ecosystem.

“We are closely monitoring the psychological operations being carried out from abroad,” said the sources while adding that the chief aim of the exercise was to make Gilgit-Baltistan controversial and its people disconcerted.

The sources pointed out that the exercise, whose chief patrons were foreign elements and expatriate Pakistanis, was an indirect approach to exploit the petty issues and local rivalries with a view to damage the national interests of Pakistan.

“We have found that the element of sectarianism in the region is not an isolated phenomenon; it is being spread to create chaos.”

Sources said following the decision of handing over the Gwadar Port to China, they expected a new campaign to target the sensitive region that borders China.

The sources added there was no question about Gilgit-Baltistan being a part of Pakistan and its people had taken part in three wars with India.

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Gilgit-Baltistan:MoU Signed to Initiate Youth Policy in GB

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Gilgit (PT): Department of Tourism, Sports, Youth and Culture, the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) has signed a Memrendum of Understanding with Bargad-Organization for Youth Development to initiate the process of youth policy development in the region.

The MoU was signed between Secretary Tourism, Youth, Sports and Culture, Mr.Syed Akhtar Hussian, and Executive Director Bargad, Ms. Sabihha Shaheen.  Bargad and UNFPA will provide technical assistance to the Department.

The ceremony took place at Islamabad hotel in which Ms. Sadia Danish, Advisor for Tourism, Sports and Culture-GB, chaired the session. She said that it is the need of the hour to have a comprehensive youth policy that can channelize youth energies and the government can provide best environment for  youth development. She also told that Bargad has been selected after a very competitive process on merit basis because of organization’s expertise and experience on the issue.

Mr. Wazir Shakeel, Minister Law said that the government will lead and facilitate in the formulation and approval of the policy and its implementation. Mr. Syed Akhtar Hussain said that the demographic transition and considerable youth population of the province needs a policy to empower youth and the current process will keep into consideration the diversity and culture of different districts of the province. Ms. Sabiha Shaheen informed that the youth policy formulation process will be participatory in which youth groups, youth organizations, media and related stakeholders will be taken on board and also welcomed all civil society organizations and media to be the part of the policy and to support the process.

Dr. Shahbaz, while presenting the process explained that along with formal consultative sessions with youth, youth groups, Civil Society Organizations, Media, parliamentarians and related stake holders in all districts of the GB, in-depth interviews and survey will also be conducted to map out youth issues, rights, responsibilities and entitlements. Input of hundreds of youth will be taken during the process and the policy will truly reflect the needs of youth and will be framed for social, economic and political empowerment of youth in the province. The ceremony was also attended by civil society organizations and representatives of the Agha Khan Foundation and media.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Bio Diversity is Threatened by Climate Change

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Karachi (Heaven GB): Gilgit-Baltistan benefits from a unique, rich and diverse nature. Yet, its biodiversity is seriously threatened by climate change.

Climate is not a stationary phenomenon, it varies from time to time. It is a product of weather which always experiences variations over space and time (Rasul, 2012). Climate change is resulting from a growing concentration of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) and uses of fossil fuels and other anthropogenic activities has become a major worldwide concern (Khan, etal 2012). Anthropogenic activities affect the atmosphere and climate in the course of air pollution of greenhouse gases and aerosol, particulate matter, and through land changing. Anthropogenic emissions of GHFs like CO2, CH4, (CFCs) and nitrous oxide have has led to increases in their atmospheric concentration and cause warming of the lower atmosphere (Rosenthal,. et al 2007).

The Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) of Pakistan formerly known as Northern Areas (NA) Pakistan has a unique and vital role in sustainable development of Pakistan. GB has  geographic range of an area of 72,971 km² (28,174 mi²), lying in the extreme north of Pakistan (75 08 48.12 E & 37 00 47.33 N to 77 41 11.82 E & 35 27 26.06 N) (Khan 2012). Nature has gifted this area with high mountainous ranges, massive glaciers, glorious rivers and splendid valleys and full of precious and industrial mines. Gilgit-Baltistan serves as a major water catchment for the Indus River Basin (IRB) upon which majority part of Pakistan depends for hydroelectrically and for irrigation proposes. Gilgit-Baltistan is a politically sensitive location because of its special territorial status. And are administered directly by the Government of Pakistan (GoP) (IUCN 2003). Nature has gifted this area with high mountainous ranges, massive glaciers, glorious rivers and splendid valleys. Gilgit-Baltistan serves as a major water catchment for the Indus River Basin (IRB) upon which majority part of Pakistan depends for hydroelectrically and for irrigation proposes. Gilgit-Baltistan is a politically sensitive location because of its special territorial status. And are administered directly by the Government of Pakistan (GoP) (IUCN 2003). It borders with Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor to the north, China to east, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KPK) province to the west and India to the south east. The region is divided in to seven districts; Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza-Nagar, Ghanche, Ghizer, Diamer and Astore.  Gilgit-Baltistan has an estimated population approaching 2000,000. The regions administrative headquarters are located in Gilgit city.  Gilgit-Baltistan is rich for biological diversity. It contains most important forests, extensive mineral resources and host for many endangered species of the world. The Gilgit-Baltistan is dominated by one of the most important landscape on the world, joint by Hindu Kush to the west, Karakorum to east, and mighty Himalayans to the south and Pamir to the north. It contains 101 peaks which are found to be above than 7,000 meters (IUCN 2003) like Nanga Parbat, K-2 (Mt. Godwin Austin) the second highest mountain after Mt. Everest. The mountain valleys of GB are usually narrow, profound and steep in appearance. The high mountains are behaving like resistance to the monsoon rains to reach in GB. That’s why most of the places in GB receive less rainfall and are fall cold desert. Natural beauty, largest mountains, unique biodiversity, topographic difference, and a larger variety of cultures and languages have been a good concern for scientist to conduct research in Gilgit Baltistan.

Climate changes and its impact on biodiversity is currently an important issue of whole world.  In Gilgit-Baltistan, some NGOs like World Wild Fund (WWF) has been struggling to protect and conserve biological resources of the GB, and are wishing to implement the adaptation and mitigation strategies for the Gilgit-Baltistan. Like other mountainous area of the world, climate changing is also taking place in Mountainous areas of Pakistan such as in Gilgit-Baltistan. Climate change is posing serious threats to the fragile ecosystems and poor communities. All most all the natural ecosystems are vulnerable to climate change in GB. The rapidly melting of glaciers causes habitat loss of many species and it causes damage in migratory routs of many migratory species. In Gilgit-Baltistan the climate stations in Gilgit, Skardu, Gupis and Bunji show increase in the total temperature in last two decades from 1980 to 2006 which has been observed increasing by 0.440 C per decades (Khan and Ali 2011).

It was discovered that change in climate caused flash floods and river bank erosion in Skardu district GB. The flash floods emanating from glacial melting and leading to river bank which causes erosion and flooding of fields (WWF-P Brochure 2012). The impact of climate change is expected to increase in future. Most of the species are moving towards poles and to higher elevations (FRANCO, etal., 2006). The general overview about the climate change and their associate hazards in Gilgit-Baltistan are loss of habitat, species extinction, less grasses in pasture, pest attacks, increased frequency of glacial melting, high turbid water, cold spell, GLOF, and destruction of water bank infrastructure are common ideals of the communities (Ali, 2010).

According to Ahmad (2010) the loss and deaths of Markhor in Chitral are occurring due to disturbances and variations in the local environmental conditions, possibly triggered by climate change.

Recommendations:

Communities of GB are prone and poor, they are unable to response such massive destructive events caused by climate change such as floods and droughts. They need long term projects for their capacity building and preparedness. There should be long term projects or community based disaster risk management, adaptations and mitigation enhancing activities to save life livelihoods, ecosystems, biodiversity and infrastructure of Gilgit-Baltistan.