Gilgit-Baltistan: GB not Given Political and Administrative Rights, Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights

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GILGIT (Dawn): Members of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday urged the federal government to give full administrative and financial powers to Gilgit-Baltistan to improve governance in the region. Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the committee’s chairman Afarsiab Khattak said that Pakistan’s economic future depended on uplift of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said construction of railway track between Pakistan and China through Karakuram Highway was important. Mr Khattak said that during the three-day visit, the committee members interacted with social and political representatives and held meetings with different religious and ethnic groups and got their input about improving human rights situation in the region. He said that the committee observed that the GB was not given the political and administrative rights envisioned in the Gilgit-Baltistan Governance and Self-Rule Order, 2009.

He said Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly was not entrusted with powers, and the decision making rested with the federal government and the GB Council. He said people of GB had to go to Islamabad to get even petty issues resolved. He said the GB governor was a representative of the ministry of Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan rather than of the president. “We have received complaints that people face problems in court matters; no labour laws exist in region and due to absence of a grid station, the people face electricity shortage,” he noted.

The Senate committee chairman noted that if GB was a disputed territory then it should be given an autonomous status as given to AJK, and if it was part of Pakistan then it should be given status of a province with its representatives in the Senate and National Assembly. He said the committee would table a resolution in Senate calling for provision of all rights to the people of GB. Speaking on the occasion, Senator Farhatullah Babar said political reforms were needed in GB and that the region’s legislative assembly needed to be made a powerful institution. He added the committee would raise the issue in the Senate. The senators also attended GBLA proceedings on Tuesday. Mushahid Hussain Syed, Hidyatullah, Nasreen Jalil, Sahar Kamran, Khalida Masood, Farhat Abbas and Soryya Ameerudin were also part of the delegation

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