Gilgit-Baltistan: Giving Powers to Bureaucracy in Islamabad, a Brazen Attack on Local Autonomy of GB, Senate Committee on Human Rights

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Gilgit (INP): The new Mining and Minerals Concession Policy for Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), giving powers of issuing mining licenses to the bureaucracy in Islamabad, is a “brazen attack” on local autonomy, a “grave assault” on the fundamental rights of the people, said PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar, who is also member of the Senate Subcommittee of Human Rights Committee on GB headed by Senator Raza Rabbani.

The policy will further deepen the acute sense of deprivation and enhance feelings of alienation among the people of GB, the senator contended.

The subcommittee is reviewing the GB Empowerment and Governance Order 2009 with a view to improving the human rights situation in the area. Babar also warned the Islamabad-based GB Council of any misadventure in encroaching upon the exclusive domain of the GB administration and its legislative assembly.

According to media reports, the council will meet next week to formally adopt the new mining licensing policy.

The senator said that the GB chief secretary has been the appellate forum in mining concession matters which powers were now sought to be shifted to the bureaucracy in Islamabad.

“The wily scheme to usurp powers of the GB administration and assembly in giving mining concessions also raises serious questions about the motive behind it as awarding mineral concessions to bidders is a lucrative business,” he said.

It passes comprehension that while the GB Empowerment Order 2009 gives the powers to regulate labour and safety in mines to the local assembly, the powers to grant mining concessions is taken over by the bureaucracy in Islamabad, he said adding, “It must not be allowed; it will not be”.

“The GB council is headed by the prime minister of Pakistan and packed with his handpicked nominees who outnumber the elected members of the GB legislative assembly in it.”

“The GB council is a high sounding front for bureaucracy in Islamabad. Most of its members have not even visited the area let alone have any understanding of the aspirations and needs of its people. It has no business to usurp the powers that legitimately belong to the local government and their elected assembly,” he said.

“Besides the prime minister and GB governor, who is also a nominee of the PM, there are six more members nominated by him from amongst members of parliament. Together with the federal minister for Kashmir Affairs as ex-officio member the nine nominated members of the Islamabad-based Council over rule the minority six members elected to it by the GB Assembly,” he said.

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