GILGIT (ET): Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Assembly on Wednesday set aside routine business to debate over the Pak-China railway track project that will pass through the region.
The discussion kicked off after Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) lawmaker Mirza Hussain tabled a motion requesting the speaker to address the issue of the railway track as it entailed the future of G-B.
“The project was signed by the prime minister without consulting any public representative from G-B, not even the chief minister,” said the lawmaker from Nagar Valley while voicing his reservations. “I fear the project, once completed, might deprive local people of whatever little they are earning from the existing Pak-China trade.”
Hussain also raised questions over the constitutional status of the region and called for its settlement before implementing the project.
Chief Minister Mehdi Shah appeared equally upset over the proposed project as he spoke on the floor of the house. “Work on the project should not be started without talking to our representatives,” he said on the third day of the assembly session.
“The region is disputed and such a huge project cannot be initiated without first settling the ambiguous status [of G-B],” maintained the chief minister.
Nationalist leader Nawaz Khan Naji, among other PPP lawmakers, supported Mirza Hussain while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers spoke in favour of the railway project, terming it a vital step for the revival of the economy.
Deputy Speaker Jamil Ahmed, who presided over the proceedings in the absence of speaker Wazir Baig, then formed a four-member committee tasked to draft the reservations. The committee, comprising Mirza Hussain of PML-Q, Janbaz of PML-N, Rahmat Khaliq of JUI-F and Muhammad Ismail, will submit the draft to the CM to be sent to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.