Gilgit-Baltistan: Another Mega Scam in GB?

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Gilgit (ET): The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has accused the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government of awarding a multi-million rupee tender on nepotism.

Addressing reporters outside the Gilgit Press Club on Saturday, PML-N Ghizer President Rana Nasir Hussain alleged that the government has awarded a tender for Rs700 million to blue-eyed officials. He claimed that the tender – which includes construction of buildings, boundary walls and classrooms in different valleys of the region, including Ghizer, Diamer and Skardu – was not advertised in any newspaper.

“We have done our homework and we believe that the education minister, education secretary and a director are among those involved in this mega scam,” Hussain alleged. Furthermore, he said that the project was awarded in the month of May, “which suggests that they intended to withdraw the money before the end of the fiscal year”. The accused officials could not be contacted for comment.

Gilgit-Baltistan:GB Development Authority Bill Passed

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Gilgit(ET): Following a unanimous vote in its favour, the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) enacted the G-B Development Authority Bill on Friday. The bill, prepared by G-B Law Minister Wazir Baig and refined by a parliamentary committee, will serve as the watchdog for development in the mountain region.

During the session, G-B Senior Minister Muhammad Jaffar said the posts for three newly carved divisions would be created in the upcoming budget.

The health minister, Haji Gulbar Khan, criticised the ban on recruitment in hospitals, saying that it has created staff shortage and the vacant posts should be filled on an immediate basis.

Replying to Khan, the law minister said it is expected that the federal government will lift the ban after the budget is announced.

The speaker also inquired about the 10,000 posts sought from the federal government for various departments and asked the law minister to initiate the process of recruitment in this regard.

Sarwar Shah, a lawmaker of JUI-F from Diamer Valley, pointed out that Darel and Tangeer valleys had not received their quota of 22,000 wheat bags so far.

However, Jaffar, who is also the minister for food, said the delay was caused due to the law and order situation in the region followed by a strike by transporters. He assured that the commodity would be delivered on an immediate basis.

The chief minister was also urged to regularise the jobs of lecturers appointed on contract basis during the session.

No regrets

Meanwhile, a legislator barred from entering the assembly said he would resort to his voters instead of seeking an apology or any other legal course against the decision.

“The people voted me to power by rejecting the bribe offered to them in the shape of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Watan cards,” said Nawaz Khan Naji, a nationalist leader during a press conference.

Naji was barred from entering the assembly for tearing apart a copy of resolution supporting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

His act led to a ruckus in the house and ended up with the speaker calling in the police for his arrest.

Naji said he had just torn a piece of paper, while on the other hand the treasury benches had hurled abuse at him.

“Action should have been taken against them, not me,” he remarked, adding that the treasury benches were trying unnecessarily to bail out Gilani, who had been convicted by Pakistan’s highest judiciary.

He further said that the G-B governor and chief minister were looting public money in the name of protocol and the empowerment order. “Not a single development project has been completed in the region for the past two years.”

Gilgit-Baltistan:PTI Demands Release of Political Activist

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Karachi (News): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Dr Arif Alvi has pledged support for the demand for the release of Baba Jan Hunzai and his fellow activists of the Labor Party Pakistan who had been languishing in jail for months.

During a meeting with the Labour Party leader Farooq Tariq, Dr Alvi condemned the alleged torture of the arrested, saying that the treatment meted out to the political activists was a clear violation of fundamental human rights.

He said the alleged torture of Baba Jan Hunzai was in complete contradiction with the PPP government’s claim that there were no political prisoners in the country. The PPP had continually mistreated political activists including the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who had been struggling for their political and economic rights, he added. Dr Alvi expressed support for the petition demanding the immediate release of the political activists.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Code of Conduct for Prayer Leaders in Gilgit

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Gilgit (ET): The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has linked the opening of the mosques sealed in the aftermath of sectarian violence with the acceptance of the code of conduct that bars prayer leaders from making hate speeches.

The code of conduct, prepared by a parliamentary peace committee, binds prayer leaders of both central mosques not to malign each other’s beliefs or to use foul language against the rival sect’s revered personalities. It states that prayer leaders and their deputies should not issue inflammatory decrees, especially during Friday and Eid sermons.

Clerics will not demand a share in government jobs and other privileges for their respective sects under the new code of conduct. If they violate it, they will be liable to be tried under the anti-terrorism act, the code states.

The peace committee comprising Adviser to the Prime Minister Attaullah Shahab, G-B Legislative Assembly, Deputy Speaker Jamil Ahmed, Member G-B Council Amjad Hussain, Adviser Forests and Wildlife Aftab Haider and others was constituted by the government in the wake of sectarian bloodshed that led to the closure of central mosques of both sects in Gilgit. Over 20 people were killed and scores of others were injured last month.

“The code of conduct aims to achieve long-term peace in the region,” said Hussain on Tuesday.

The parliamentary committee on Monday handed over the code of conduct to the Masjid Board that is represented by 20 members, 10 each from Shia and Sunni sects, who will be responsible for ensuring that the code is implemented.

According to a source privy to the board’s affairs, central mosques of Sunni and Shia sects will only be opened if the clerics guarantee they will not issue decrees condemning the other sect. “What has been banned is foul language against revered personalities besides branding each other infidel,” said the source. The board will take a final decision today in this connection, he added.

The Masjid Board is responsible for implementation of the 15-point code of conduct which is binding on prayer leaders in Gilgit. “If they refuse to accept the conditions, the mosques will remain closed for an indefinite period,” he said.

Following sectarian bouts in early April, the government sealed the doors of central mosques, barring people from offering prayers there.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Peace can only be restored in GB if the people of the region stand up and work for it

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By D.J. Mathal

Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA), Wazir Baig, while speaking at a peace conference in the Gilgit city, acknowledged that terror and criminals elements rule the roots in the region. “Criminals roam around freely and the government, as such has, no writ”, he said.

He said that during the recent sectarian killings and violence, five innocent people belonging to the Ismaili community lost their lives. The speaker warned that if the Ismailis could beat back the enemy at the border and get Nishan-i-Haider, surely they can repulse those who endanger their lives in the streets of Gilgit City. Well, that, however, would be a, senseless vendetta one could rationally be sucked into. Mr Baig said he respected religious leaders and Ulema but he had no room in his hearts for those who propagate and promote hatred and sectarianism among the masses. The speaker also said that those who do not like the present government should wait for another two years and, during this period groom educated youngsters for future leadership who can assume a role to lead the nation whatever way they want.

He speaks his heart and what he has said is true. This was not the first time he raised these apprehensions —he, on many occasions, had come hard on the government. The speaker has held Mehdi Shah Government responsible for all the troubles in Gilgit-Baltistan.

It apparently irks the speaker: why the government has failed to provide protection of life to the people despite spending billions of rupees each year on the deployment of security forces in the region? He also feels ashamed of the grave reality that the region has been polarized and divided on the basis of Shia-Sunni faultlines.

Keeping aside the sincere feelings expressed by the speaker, what one can do when the regime led by Mehdi Shah and his coteries is not ready even to acknowledge the realities on the ground. It is because of their criminal negligence, incompetency and lack of vision that the whole nation is passing through these hard days. For the last over three yeas, sensible people from all walks of life had been warning and advising the regime that a lava was boiling in the region and could anytime burst out, bringing irreparable destruction but the rulers hardly paid any heed to such warnings. Instead, they continued the mantra of ‘all is right’.

When the time came when the people were being killed in the streets of major cities and public property was being destroyed, the rulers turned their backs to the public sufferings.

Instead of accepting responsibility and doing something for the resolution of the issues, the dummy chief minister and his stooges tried to put all the blame on the nationalists of the region. He even closed some mosques saying provocative speeches made there were causing tensions among the people. The government is even running after the Khateebs of two mosques in a wishful thinking that this would help control the situation. One of them has been rounded up and the other is on the hunt-run. People can see the contradictions here: if the nationalist were behind the law and order problems why the Khateebs of mosques are being arrested? Secondly, linking the nationalists with the fundamentalist religious elements is another proof of the rulers’ sick mind to find a bogeyman and put all the blame on it.

One figure in the government who belongs to a religious party has also come out with an almost similar claim and these people are, in fact, the one who never want peace in the region and always work to save the law breakers and create confusion among the masses by pointing fingers at others, especially the nationalist parties. These elements also work to promote extremist forces in order to achieve their own agenda.

This is also a fact that very recently the chief minister had, perhaps in a slip of the tongue way, declared that about 2,800 were on the payroll of secret agencies. We do not need rocket science to understand what these 2,800 people have been doing and what is their agenda? Had these people been working on a good cause like promoting sectarian harmony in the region we would not have seen the frequent killings of innocent citizens and the speaker of the legislative assembly would not have come to the open to declare that the whole region runs under a law of jungle. It is these people who work against the interests of the nation at the behest of agencies and then accuse the nationalist of all the mayhem. In fact, these people working at the behest of the agencies of the enemies of peace and tranquillity in the region. If such people are removed from the scene, there region can once again become cradle of peace otherwise we would continue killing one another for decades to come.

It is time everyone in the region, especially the elders, realize that if they continue doing politics and journalism on Shias and Sunnis, the region would continue fast heading towards destruction and mayhem and there will be no prospects of peace in the area. But if they want peace, prosperity and cohesion, they have to come out of the menace of sectarianism and start thinking towards all issues as a nation by discarding the thought of being Shia, Sunni, Balti, Gilgit etc. and save themselves from the conspiracies of the people working on the payroll of secret agencies. Also, it should be kept in mind that peace can only be restored in the region if the people of the region stand up and work for it instead of relying on what the government of the day might do.

Thw writer is Chief Editor of Bang-E-Sahar and he hails from Yasin Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan: GB As a Secular State

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Karachi (ET): A legislator and nationalist leader has proposed that Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) should be made a secular and independent state.

Chief of his own faction of Balawaristan National Front (BNF), Nawaz Khan Naji, stated this while addressing a gathering of young party members of BNF in Rawalpindi on Sunday, said a press release issued by the organisers.

Naji said that injustice, nepotism, corruption and interference of clerics in the administrative affairs of G-B are responsible for the sectarian unrest prevalent in the province.

“Whether it is G-B’s judiciary, bureaucracy, government or the civil society, they are all divided on a sectarian basis,” said Naji, who is also a member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly.

He said the G-B government is not sincere in maintaining its writ and the entire society is being held hostage by a handful of religious clerics.

“We can only get rid of this menace if we have a secular state without the role of the so-called mullahs,” he added. He called on the society to challenge the rights of clerics in the affairs of the state.

Naji dispelled the impression that a ‘foreign hand’ is behind the sectarian strife in G-B, and instead attributed it to the government’s failure in handling the situation.

“When our own house is not in order, our people start blaming their lapses on foreign forces,” he remarked.

“There is an eminent need of a war, not one of weapons and bullets, but one of ideas and sincere struggles to establish a peaceful secular state,” the chairman added.

Naji claimed that corruption is so rampant in the regional government that the government itself has to bribe its officials to get official bills released.