Month: October 2013

Gilgit-Baltistan: Nurses Demand Regularization of Their Service

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GILGIT (ET): Nursing staff in Gilgit has announced boycotting the polio vaccination drive scheduled to be launched across Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Tuesday.

Taken a day ahead of the drive, the decision is meant to press the government to regularise services of nearly 1,500 staff members based in seven districts of the region. “Regularisation of our services was due in June 2012, but it hasn’t happened as yet,” complained a nurse who attended a staff meeting held at a local hotel.
“We have come to the conclusion that our issue will never be looked at seriously if we continue working silently,” she said while requesting anonymity. “We have decided to call a protest rally and will lay siege to the chief minister’s office and assembly building till the acceptance of our demands.”
Attended by nurses from all valleys of the region, the staff meeting was convened to chalk out an action plan to make the protest effective.
It is estimated that the boycott will result in the exclusion of 200,000 children below the age of five in the anti-polio drive. However, the staff believes the time is suitable to get their demands accepted, since the authorities can in no way afford to let the vaccination campaign be derailed.
G-B Minister for Health Gulbahar Khan put the blame on “a few” trying to sabotage the understanding reached previously. “We had met with their (nurses) representatives earlier and agreed to end the boycott,” Khan told The Express Tribune. “But there are a few who are provoking others to go on strike,” he said, without specifying who they were.
Khan said an official order will soon be issued to regularise the services of these nurses, besides adjusting their pay from June 2012. He, however, warned of strict action against those politicising the issue for personal gains


Gilgit-Baltistan: More Security Check Posts on KKH

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GILGIT (ET): The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has decided to set up 17 more check posts on the strategic Karakoram Highway (KKH), which links the region to the rest of the country along with China.
The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting held in Gilgit under the chair of G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Ali Shah. “The purpose of erecting more check posts on the highway is to ensure a safe journey for commuters,” spokesperson for the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Sajjadul Haq said on Wednesday.

Over three dozen check posts manned by police and Frontier Constabulary personnel already dot the highway from Gilgit to Besham. However, two separate terror attacks on the route last year claimed the lives of at least 30 passengers.
The importance of the highway has been compounded by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent agreements with the Chinese government regarding a railway route passing through G-B.
The cabinet meeting held on Tuesday night also condemned Sunday’s attack on All Saints’ Church in Peshawar and offered condolences to the family of Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi and two other military officials slain by terrorists in Upper Dir on September 15.

Home Secretary Attaur Rahman and inspector general of police (IGP) briefed the cabinet about the arrests of suspects following the murder of security officials probing the massacre of 10 foreign tourists at a base camp of Nanga Parbat in June. Participants were told the arrest of the suspected mastermind of the attack on investigators led to clues about the perpetrators of other attacks as well.
Military uniforms recovered
The police have recovered military uniforms and a mobile phone from a house in Diamer valley’s Niyat village.
The uniforms were recovered following information divulged by key suspects arrested in connection with the murder of security officials in Chilas town, headquarters of Diamer valley, said a police official requesting anonymity.
“A man has been taken into custody while 10 army uniforms and a mobile set have been seized,” said the official, speculating the cell phone might belong to a foreigner.
The gunmen who stormed the Nanga Parbat base camp and shot down 10 foreign trekkers and their Pakistani guide were reportedly wearing uniforms of the Gilgit Scouts

Gilgit-Baltistan: Trade Avenues with China and Central Asia

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ISLAMABAD (D.Times): The development in the area of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral will open avenues for trade with China and other regions. Regional Centres of ICIMOD and ICARDA come up for our support for the strategic plan development of Mountain Agricultural Research Centre (MARC) in the region for the improvement and better of crops, fruits and livestock production. This was stated by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad here while presiding over a high-level ‘Consultative Workshop with Stakeholders for MARC Strategic Plan Development’ at PARC Headquarters. ICIMOD Consultant Dr Jochen Currle currently on a consultancy mission to develop strategic plan for MARC Juglot, Gilgit-Baltistan was given a presentation on ‘Strategic Development of Agricultural Research in Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral’. He presented situation analysis, vision, an ideal scenario in 2023, mission statement, strategic framework, and many organisational options, sequences of strategic development steps for views and inputs to finalize the documents for presentation to concerned Ministries of Gilgit-Baltistan and federal government for approval. PARC Natural Resources Member Dr Nadeem Amjad while chairing the question and answer session highlighted that there is a number of crisis in the country but there is no crises in food in the country. In the open question-answer session many question were raised and replied by the experts. staff report

Gilgit-Baltistan: Education Expo Held in Gilgit

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GILGIT (ET): A two-day education expo kicked off in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Thursday, providing students and teachers a rare opportunity to learn and interact.

More than 110 schools participated in the expo held at Women Degree College Gilgit, and set up stalls depicting student art work. A speech and quiz competition, book fair along with comedy skits were also part of the event which was organised by the Association for Academic Quality (AFAQ).

“The idea behind this event was to provide students, parents and teachers an opportunity to interact and learn from each other,” said Basharat Hussain, AFAQ’s regional head. Some teachers and students were also given awards for their contribution to education.

The venue remained crowded throughout the day as parents, teachers, students and other residents of the area swarmed the 80 plus stalls set up by students from both private and government schools.

Education officials and lawmakers also visited and lauded the efforts of the event’s organisers. Hussain praised the participating schools, adding the turnout and response was greater than his expectations.

Air Foundation School teacher Shakila Anwar boasted about the efforts of her students’ paintings up on display. “We worked hard to make these items,” she said.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Silk Route Festival in Gilgit

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GILGIT (Dawn): The Gilgit-Baltistan administration has decided to organise the Silk Route International Festival in the capital city of the region during the last week of next month in the hope that the event will pull in both local and foreign tourists and traders in large numbers.

The decision was made during a recent meeting chaired by Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Secretary Yonus Dhagga, according to the officials in the know.

They told Dawn that the participants agreed that there was a need for organising the festival to revive local tourism and trade, and raise the soft image of the terrorist-hit region.

The officials said the tentative schedule of the event had been conveyed to all stakeholders for necessary preparations, while the exact date of the opening would be announced shortly.

“The tentative dates of the festival’s start and conclusion are Oct 25 and Oct 27 respectively,” an official said.

The official said the chief secretary had formed many committees to make preparations for the big event and raise funds for the event.

He said the administration and the relevant government departments were making every effort to ensure the festival’s success.

The official said the administration was hopeful that the festival would help revive tourism industry in Gilgit-Baltistan, which had been badly shaken up by a series of terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, officials said Karakoram International University has been tasked with managing the festival.

They said the vice chancellor of the university would head the committee looking after the overall affairs of the event.

The officials said cultural shows and exhibitions would be held along Karakoram Highway.

Until the early years of the Musharraf regime, the festival was organised on a regular basis.

However, it couldn’t take place afterwards due to the lack of the interest of the relevant quarters.

An official said the festival was being revived with an aim to promote tourism and trade, raise the soft image of the region and provide the local people with better employment opportunities.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Self Governance Order 2009 Blocked Representation in Parliament

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GILGIT (ET): A regional religious organisation has called for the withdrawal of ‘Self Governance Order 2009’ in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), saying the order has blocked G-B’s representation in the parliament.
Under the G-B’s empowerment and self-governance order, its status was brought at par with that of a province with a chief minister and governor installed for the first time in the region’s history.
The demand was made by Tanzeem Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamaat’s (TASWJ) General Secretary Mohammad Nawaz and other leaders during a press conference held at a hotel on Monday. “We want G-B to either be given the status of a 5th province or its affairs handled by the centre,” said Nawaz.

The organisation was registered during 1956 and its office bearers, as they say, have no affiliation with the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ). They have representation in the Kohistan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“The politics has not only damaged the interest of the people of G-B, it has also hampered the Kashmir issue,” said TASWJ’s general secretary. TASWJ leaders said the development has eluded G-B since the new system of governance was introduced by the Pakistan Peoples Party.

A large chunk of the annual budget goes to the chief minister, his cabinet and the governor, leaving nothing for development, Nawaz added.
The leaders urged the government to ensure implementation of peace by getting peace pacts signed by all sects residing in G-B.
About the Diamer operation, the group has lent its support to security agencies and asked them to expand the scope of their operation to the entire region.