Gilgit-Baltistan:Agriculture Department promises “free seeds” for GB farmers

Posted on

Gilgit (PT): The GB Agriculture Department plans to provide free seeds to farmers in the region. This was stated by a representative of the department while talking to media today. He informed that the seeds of a variety of crops will be made available to the farmers during the upcoming sowing season.

He further said that seeds were being packed and the process of distribution of seeds would soon be started in all seven districts of Gilgit Baltistan.


Gilgit-Baltistan:Pakistan’s relationship with China and GB

Posted on

Speaking in Jhelum on November 24, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that Pakistan-China relations were purely strategic and were not against any other country, and that they would actually help in the promotion of regional and global peace. He had just attended the closing ceremony of a two-week-long Pakistan-China Joint Military Exercise Friendship-IV-2011.

Lest the world take him as speaking tongue-in-cheek, he added that China’s security was dear to Pakistan and such joint exercises would strengthen relations between the two countries, which were facing the common threat of terrorism. He further disarmed regional and global suspicion by pointing to the fact that Pakistan was in the routine of having such joint exercises with other countries as well and had conducted them with 50 other countries.

But the sad truth is that conflict is still the working paradigm in South Asia and in the world. When General Kayani said ‘purely strategic’ relations with China, he probably thought that this would take the adversarial regional mind away from ideas of hostile combinations of force. The fact is that the Jhelum exercise will not fail to elicit negative interpretation and much of that will be based on ‘explanatory’ statements made in Pakistan but not in China, where foreign policy intent is not worn by the politicians on their sleeves.

Unless suspicion is disarmed through codependent trade relations with India, the neighbouring state will go towards seeing any Pakistan-China development as directed against it. India sees much more in the Karakoram Highway, built by the Chinese, than just a trade artery. It says it is a flanking move to challenge India in Kashmir, where Indian troops are deployed, and that Chinese troops are actually deployed in the Gilgit-Baltistan region (something that both Pakistan and China have denied). India has always linked Pakistan’s nuclear programme and its weaponisation to China. The rest of the world, too, is suspicious of China’s policy towards South Asia in general and Pakistan-Afghanistan in particular.

In Pakistan, strategists don’t help by looking at the American presence in Afghanistan as being aimed against China — as a challenge to China’s forward move in Central Asia. Pakistani leaders openly say that new contacts with China should be aimed at shifting Pakistan’s big traditional dependencies on America to its all-weather friend, China. Of course, this can have its negative effects in Pakistan, where cheap Chinese imports could deal a devastating blow to local industry and businesses.

What makes matters worse is that Pakistan’s relationship with China is — as is much of foreign policy— dictated by the military which dominates policymaking and sets the narrative and public discourse on how we perceive and deal with the outside world. This is perhaps why we are programmed to look at relations with China as a counter to Indian influence in the region and seem to prefer it over relations with America, which happens to be one of our largest aid donors and largest trading partners. Over time, the elected civilian government in Pakistan needs to take greater ownership of this bilateral relationship so that it can be weaned away from purely defence to social sectors. Right now, the perception that is determined by the armed forces in Pakistan is a fair one, and it is inevitable that the military is the one who stands to benefit the most from it. Of course, this is merely to point out that the benefits of such a deep relationship should accrue also to ordinary Pakistanis, especially in fields which concern and benefit them.

Pakistan’s isolationism and internal civil-military contradictions are retarding its progress towards a prosperous market state that can look after its large population better. To achieve this, Pakistan must stay on the course of normalising its relations with India through free trade and allowing India to trade with Central Asia through its territory the same way it is willing to serve as a transit territory for the movement of goods from Gwadar to the western regions of China. If we were to learn the philosophy behind China’s conduct in addition to just doing military exercises, we would do what the world wants from us and not adopt an unrealistic defiant posture.

Gilgit-Baltistan:GB legislative assembly rejected K-P’s claim over part of the structure of Diamer-Bhasha Dam

Posted on

GILGIT (ET): Existing tensions between Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) have increased over the controversy of the Diamer-Bhasha dam, with both sides claiming rights to the dam.

G-B legislative assembly members rejected K-P’s claim over part of the structure on Tuesday and decided to inform the federal government about “encroachment” through “proper channels”.

“K-P’s claim over some eight kilometres of land in Diamer is baseless and so, is rejected,” the lawmakers decided in an informal meeting chaired by the G-B legislative assembly speaker.

Members of the G-B assembly said that the K-P assembly had recently passed a resolution claiming land in Diamer. According to members, the K-P assembly also demanded equal compensation for the people of Kohistan likely to be affected by the construction of the proposed dam.

Speaker Wazir Baig formed a five-member committee belonging to lawmakers hailing from Diamer district to look into the matter, a lawmaker told The Express Tribune.

The main purpose of taking up the matter with the federal government and discussing it in a formal session of the G-B assembly was to avoid a direct confrontation with the K-P government.

Nationalist leader Nawaz Naji told the meeting in a controversial statement that historically, Kohistan, Shinaki and Chitral were also part of G-B and therefore, G-B could claim rights over these areas as well.

Gilgit-Baltistan:KPK Assembly asked to stop payment to GB

Posted on

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakh-tunkhwa Assembly through two unanimous resolutions on Thursday asked the federal government to honour its commitment about the Chasma Right Bank Canal (CRBC) project and stop payment to Gilgit-Baltistan until the resolution of the disputed eight-kilometre area by the boundary commission.

Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain moved the resolution carrying signatures of all the parliamentary leaders that asked Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to increase the funds that he had announced for the CRBC project. Earlier, the Pakistan People s Party-Sherpao lawmaker Israrullah Khan Gandapur said that the CRBC was not only one of the vital projects for the province but also for the entire country.

He recalled the ministers speeches on the floor of the House promising that the arrears of net profits received from hydel power generation would be spent on new hydel-generation schemes but now the amount was being spent on other projects.

The opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani of the JUI-F, PPP s Samiullah Alizai and Abdul Akbar Khan, Saeeda Batol Nasir, ANP s Saqibullah Khan Chamkani and others in their separate speeches said the government could irrigate lakhs of acres of barren land in southern districts that could fulfil the requirements of food, wheat and rice not only for the province, Pakistan, even Afghanistan and Central Asian States.

They said the provincial government should initiate work on this important project from its own resources if the federal government was not releasing funds. They said that the donor countries were willing to fund this profitable project and it would bring a huge profit within a few years after completion. The information minister supported the mover but termed it as a complicated issue. He said this was not as simple as was being portrayed. He pointed out that his province could not utilise its own share of water after signing of the Indus Waters accord in 1991. The forces using our water are making it complicated for achieving their interest, he complained.

Mian Iftikhar said the federal government was still willing to fund the project but was facing some constraints. He said the chief minister, who had refused to secure loans, had later expressed willingness to get a loan for this project.

The minister said the provincial government would initiate work on this project even if it did not get any support from the federal government. He assured the members that the chief minister would invite all parliamentary leaders to discuss this important project, as it was not a political issue.

The House also supported the joint resolution of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPAs Abdul Sattar Khan and Barrister Javed Abbasi asking the federal government to stop payment to the disputed landowners and release the money to pay the real owners hailing from Kohistan district.

The legislators said the Wapda had intentionally made the Bhasha Dam project controversial. They warned the people of Kohistan would come out on roads in protest if their genuine demands were not met.

The House supported the resolutions when the Speaker Kiramatullah Khan put it for a voice vote. The speaker directed ringing of the bill for two minutes when MPA Javed Khan Tarakai pointed to the lack of quorum.

Saqibullah Chamkani s resolution asking the government to send the electricity bills against the consumers in the first week of a month with two weeks time for payment was also passed unanimously.

He said over-billing and payment of the bills in a short time in the banks had created unrest among the government employees and businessmen. He said the consumers had to pay visits to the offices for correction of the bills instead of performing their duties and business. The Speaker prorogued the session sine die.

Courtesy: The News

Gilgit-Baltistan: Daylong power breakdowns becoming commin in GB

Posted on

Gilgit:Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is heading towards a dark winter, with daylong power breakdowns becoming common in most parts of the region.

“The power crisis is worsening with each passing day, with the city experiencing complete blackouts thrice a week, even on Sundays,” said Saifur Rehman, a resident of Gilgit.

The capital city of the mountain region was hit by the longest power cut on Sunday, when power was suspended for 20 hours continuously, bringing life to a complete standstill.

The practice has been going on for the past two months now. According to officials at the water and power department, power is suspended on Sundays due to ‘cleanliness and maintenance
work’; they blame water scarcity for power outages on other days.

The situation in other parts of the region, including Astore, Skardu, Ghizer and Hunza-Nagar valleys is similar to that in Gilgit, where 10 to 15 hours of power cuts are experienced regularly.

“This is just the beginning. [I fear] the worst is yet to come,” said Ghulam Ali, a local businessman referring to the winter season when the temperature drops to 12 to 18 degrees below freezing point, causing water channels and lakes to freeze.

According to official statistics, G-B has the potential to produce over 45,000 Megawatts of electricity. However, due to lack of investment in the power sector, people are suffering from severe form of loadshedding and increasingly depending on liquefied petroleum gas.

It has been observed that the period between November and May is the worst in G-B, with the region experiencing up to 22 hours of power outages due to frozen lakes.

The authorities have blamed lack of funds and water shortage for the situation. However, according to local people, corruption and inefficiencies in the power department are the main reasons behind prolonged power cuts.

“The consumption increases manifold due to cold weather in winters, while the production decreases owing to shortage of water,” said G-B Minister for Water and Power Naseer Khan.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan:Marvi Memon filled an Application in Supreme Court to take suo moto action against imposition of tax in GB

Posted on

ISLAMABAD, (SANA): The former member National Assembly (NA) Marvi Memon on Wednesday filled an Application in Supreme Court (SC) to take suo moto action against proposed imposition of tax in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

She has stated in her Application that Gilgit-Baltistan has no presentation in National Assembly and Senate so therefore the imposition of tax at (GB), is an unconstitutional step.

In her plea she has cleared that, if the tax would be taken from the masses of (GB) than the tax should be spend on the welfare of GB.

Marvi has requested the Court that according to the current situation there is need to inquire that how can the federal government impose tax in GB, in the absence of their finance minister. She said weather the tax would be used transparently in the region, or it would be collected for use in other provinces or in Islamabad.

She has contended that how could be collected the tax from the GB people without their presentation in the Parliament? Adding that if the GB people are considered as citizens of Pakistan and the tax is being imposed on them, than they have fundamental rights and why they have been deprived from their basic right which is presentation in Parliament.

She has appealed to the Court to take suo moto action on her field application because the federation is going to impose tax on GB, adding that providing of fundamental human rights is the responsibility of executive which is being denied.

She requested the Court to take notice on her application for further consideration into the issue.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Manzoor Watoo directed authorities to establish tax infrastructure in Gilgit-Baltistan

Posted on

ISLAMABAD, Sep 23 (APP): Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo said no taxes will be imposed on the poor of Gilgit-Baltistan.Only the well-off segment of society in GB would be taxed which are being decided to be Consumed completely in GB.It was told during a meeting held to finalize Establishment of Gilgit Baltistan Power Development Bill 2011 and Gilgit Baltistan Income Tax (Adaptation) Bill 2011.
Karam Ali Shah Governor GB, Syed Mehdi Shah Chief Minister GB,  Aftab Shahban Mirani, Engineer Usman Khan Members Gilgit-Baltistan Council and other members of Council and representative of Gilgit-Baltistan Government were also present.
Wattoo said taxes, which are collected for the development purpose,would only be collected from well off people and companies doing business in GB.
“The revenue collected through taxes would be utilized to meet   development targets of Gilgit-Baltistan,” he added.
The minister directed authorities concerned to establish tax infrastructure in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Governor Gilgit-Baltistan and Chief Minister also appreciated that tax collection is necessary for the development of the region that would ultimately benefit people of the area.
Tax collected form GB will be consumed 100% in the Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan briefed on the process of procurement and storage of wheat.