Month: February 2014
Gilgit-Baltistan: GB Government Threatens to Send Police, if KPK Police Does Not Vacate Disputed Area
GILGIT (ET): The 10-kilometre stretch of land which separates Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) from Gilgit-Balistan has been causing problems between Gilgit-Balistan’s (G-B) chief minister and provincial government again. Mehdi Shah, the chief minister, has threatened to send G-B’s policemen to the disputed territory near Diamer-Bhasha Dam if the K-P police do not leave.
The land dispute is over a 10-kilometre stretch of land on either side of the Basari check post, which separates K-P from G-B. The ownership of the land remains in limbo and has caused unrest between residents of Diamer Valley and Kohistan, as it involves the disbursement of royalties in the long run. In an attempt to settle the dispute, the federal government decided to replace G-B and K-P police with Rangers in the area last month, since the dispute started to spill-over and has put the future of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam at risk.
“We had withdrawn our police on the assurance from the centre that the K-P government would also pull its police force out from the disputed land,” the CM told reporters outside G-B Assembly on Friday. “But if the Kohistan police remain in the area, we will redeploy our forces at the Basari check post.”
Opposition leader Janbaz Khan from Diamer Valley raised the issue in the G-B Assembly on Thursday, saying that Kohistan police was still holding their previous positions in defiance.
ISLAMABAD (Dawn): Agriculture experts have urged the government to encourage entrepreneurship along the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor for development of horticulture and related sectors, starting from Gilgit-Baltistan to Gwadar. This would promote agriculture as well as generate employment opportunities, they said.
Since the economic corridor was on the cards, the government should gear up to fully exploit the potential of agricultural sector along the vast corridor, they added. These views were expressed by the experts during a visit of the members of National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security to the National Agricultural Research Centre here on Thursday.
Despite low spending on agriculture, the sector was producing promising results, they said. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad informed legislators that the PARC was running a considerable number of projects with foreign financing. However, increased funding by the federal government to projects aimed at further developing agriculture should be forthcoming.
Fisheries and cotton sectors which usually belong to the ministry of agriculture, have been put wrongly under the control of ministries of ports and shipping and textiles, he said. Speaking about the potential of horticulture, Dr Iftikhar said that Balochistan has no match in this sector.
ISLAMABAD (APP): The government has devised a holistic strategy to establish Technology Parks at four provinces including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir aiming to expedite research work, said Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid on Thursday. Answering a question of Lal Chand, he said a Technology Park would be established soon in National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in collaboration with private sector. The PC-2 of the project was ready the Park would be established at 50 acres. Government was considering to establish Space Parks, Pharmaceutical Parks in the country. Responding to a question he said there is no proposal to set up a science city in the country.
Gilgit (BR):The Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs was informed on Wednesday that Gilgit-Baltistan has the potential to generate 59,000 megawatts electricity if effective policy is put in place. The committee meeting chaired by Senator Baz Mohammad Khan, was told by the officials of Ministry of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs that the abundance of water has not only the capacity to generate 59,000MW electricity, but also meet the water scarcity for cultivation of fertile land.
Secretary Ministry of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Shahidullah Baig told the panel that the Indus River alone can generate 45,000MW electricity, while 8671MW could also be generated through on-going projects in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. “If proper mechanism and effective policy is followed, it will not only help in addressing the energy crisis, but also the water shortage in the country”, he said, adding that 4500 MW electricity could be added to the national grid with the completion of Bhasha Dam at the total cost of Rs 1254 billion.
GILGIT (ET): At least 69 employees from Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) Excise and Taxation Department have been sacked while many are awaiting their fate as the regional government expedites a drive against corruption. “This is part of the overall drive launched on the instructions of the chief secretary against corruption and illegal practices in regional government institutions,” a district administration official said on Tuesday.
A section officer in the department, who allegedly bypassed rules to make such appointments, was also suspended from duty and will face an inquiry committee that will recommend a final decision.
The action was taken after the G-B Chief Minister’s (CM) Inspection Commission, on directives from Chief Secretary Younus Dagha, launched an inquiry into the alleged illegal appointments in government departments and submitted its recommendations.
The sacked employees include inspectors, sub-inspectors and clerks who had reportedly been appointed over the past two years against protocol. The official revealed that action was likely against 16 others allegedly appointed illegally in the department.
A similar inquiry was conducted recently that suggested that at least 200 teachers had also been appointed illegally in Ghizer Valley, while appointment records in Astor Valley are currently being investigated.
“This is not over by any means. The process will continue as long as complaints surface,” the official said about the inquiry which was launched last year after complaints of corruption flooded the chief secretary’s office.
Last week, two senior officials from G-B’s education department were forcibly retired and will not be receiving any retirement benefits after an inquiry proved them guilty. “Action was taken in light of recommendations submitted by the CM’s Inspection Commission recently,” said Burhan Afandi, a senior official at the Excise and Taxation Department.
CM Mehdi Shah also appreciated Chief Secretary Dagha for his efforts. “I support the good work that he’s doing,” Mehdi Shah told reporters at his office recently. “Dagha initiated the anti-corruption drive on my instructions.”
GILGIT (ET): The doctors’ strike in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) entered its fifth day on Sunday, compounding the miseries of patients in the region. The strike started on Wednesday after the government failed to address doctors’ demands of bringing salaries and perks at par with medical professionals employed by the federal government.
“The strike will go on till our demands are accepted,” said Dr Ghulam Haider of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) in G-B.
As part of the action, doctors stopped treating patients in private clinics as well as government hospitals in Diamer, Hunza-Nagar, Astore valleys, among others. However, emergency and operation services are operational at government hospitals – doctors have threaten to boycott these in the coming week if their demands remain ignored.
In addition, medical professionals also threatened to protest outside the governor’s office to mount pressure on the government.
Locals claim at least one child died at City Hospital for want of treatment while the boycott was underway.
Chief Minister (CM) Mehdi Shah has sought support from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders to convince doctors to resume work. Fida Nashad of PML-N was one of the party members contacted by the CM for support. “Nashad hasn’t replied to CM’s request,” said a PML-N spokesman.
Minister for Health Gulbar Khan shared Rs500 million has been sought from the federal government for the region’s doctors. “Doctors are aware of this, but instead of showing some patience, they have resorted to boycotting work, which was uncalled for,” said the minister, explaining the financial constraints of his government.
ISLAMABAD (ET): The government is planning to involve the World Bank in unlocking the untapped hydro power potential of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) – somewhere close to 42,000 megawatts (MW), according to one report – in order to overcome the energy crisis. Earlier in 2011, a joint study report by WB, ADB, Aga Khan Development Network and G-B government had identified that G-B can contribute 42,000MW to the national grid.
A high-level meeting to discuss the matter was held in Islamabad, attended by representatives of WB, International Finance Corporation (IFC), water and power ministry and the G-B administration.
A top government official, who was part of the meeting, told The Express Tribune that as many as 220 potential sites for hydropower production in G-B had been identified. He said that WB and IFC representatives agreed to visit these sites in March.
“These sites have the potential to generate cheap and clean energy the capacity of which varies from 5MW to 500MW from site to site,” the official said. He added that the WB and IFC will link independent power producers (IPPs) to invest in the hydropower sector, while the government will facilitate private investors.
He added that the WB will also assist Pakistan in developing a mechanism to connect power generation in the region to the national grid. Currently, electricity generation in the region is not linked to the national grid and any production of energy in the region without linking it to the national grid is pointless.
“We will work on linking the region with the national grid so that even electricity from smaller projects can be transmitted,” the official said.