Gilgit-Baltistan:Legality of New Declared Districts Questioned

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GILGIT (ET):Politicians and lawmakers from Baltistan have jumped in to defend Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Chief Minister (CM) Mehdi Shah, who has come under immense criticism for giving district status to two valleys belonging to the region he hails from.

Politicians from both Gilgit and Baltistan exchanged heated words over a statement made by G-B Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig, who declared the formation of two new districts in Baltistan illegal.

Shigar and Kharmang valleys were given district status by Shah during a visit. The announcement triggered a sharp reaction in Gilgit, the capital city, with politicians accusing the CM of being biased towards Baltistan.

Baig went one step ahead in criticising the CM by terming the move illegal under the G-B Empowerment and Self Rule Order 2009.

“Without amending the governance order, declaring Kharmang and Shigar to be districts is illegal,” Baig said on Wednesday. “The order mentions only seven districts and says nothing about the creation of new ones.”

Baig’s statement came a day after Leader of the Opposition in the G-B Assembly Janbaz Khan and senior politician Mir Ghazanfar accused Shah of being a biased official representing only the Baltistan region.

In a fresh counter attack, senior minister Muhammad Jafar, who is also from Baltistan, said on Thursday a complaint against Baig would be launched in the presidency. “The speaker should not make such statements, he finds faults with everything except Hunza,” retaliated Jafar.

Mohammad Saleem, a former advisor to the prime minister on G-B, said Baig had revealed his own bias through the statement. “He (Baig) should think about the [possible] repercussions of his statement.”

Other lawmakers from Baltistan, including Haji Ibrahim and Raja Azam of MQM also criticised Baig and others opposing the CM. Meanwhile, politicians from Gilgit have demanded district status be given to other valleys too.

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